living in myanmar

Moving to Myanmar

Myanmar Score
Shithole Paradise

What is Myanmar?

Moving to Myanmar flag

Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia with rampant ethnic strife, on-going civil wars and systemic human rights violations

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the largest country on the mainland of Southeast Asia, formerly known as Burma.

It borders Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.

Like so many countries, Burma used to be a British colony.

During World War 2, Japan briefly took over, and Burma then gained independence in 1948.

A coup in 1962 turned the country into a military dictatorship, and for most of the years following, Myanmar has been the scene of rampant ethnic strife – in fact, the country has been involved in one of the longest-running on-going civil wars in the world.

It had/has one of the world’s most repressive and abusive regimes.

In addition, consistent and systemic human rights violations still occur on a daily basis.

Slavery, human trafficking, child soldiers, and other crap were not only condoned but actively encouraged by the government.

Roughly a decade ago, the military junta was finally dissolved and an elected government came to power, which massively improved foreign relations and economic conditions.

However, the fun didn’t last.

In 2020, when the party of famous person Aung San Suu Kyi won with a clear majority, the army again seized power.

This led to on-going continuous widespread protests in the country.

Despite all this crap, Myanmar has potential economically.

It’s rich in natural resources and renewable energy, and it is expected to grow significantly in the next few decades.

90% of the world’s rubies come from here.

It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and its informal economy is one of the largest in the world – closely linked to corruption, smuggling and illegal trade.

However … the income gap is massive, and the military junta controls most of the wealth.

It lacks basic infrastructure, health care, decent education, and has pretty high crime, censorship and corruption rates.

Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of opium and the largest producer of methamphetamine. Take that, WW.

Moving to Myanmar flag
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Requirements for moving to Myanmar

The requirements for moving to Myanmar aren’t super strict, but neither are they lax.

The cost of living is pretty low, so that probably won’t be an issue for anyone with at least one source of location independent income.

Most Westerners do not need to apply for an actual visa, instead they are either visa-exempt, can get a visa on arrival, or an e-visa.

Staying here for longer than 28 to 70 days however could be tricky.

You can extend your stay for a bit, but getting permanent residence is quite difficult, and not many people are granted one.

Citizenship isn’t an option either in most cases.

In addition, you need to have the fortitude to rough it, because Myanmar’s infrastructure and level of basic necessities are subpar.

The elevated levels of crime and the constant civil unrest do not look appealing either.

And of course, the level of English spoken is at a very low proficiency.

What is the cost of living in Myanmar?

The cost of living in Myanmar for a single person comes down to slightly less than $1,000 per month.

If you have a family, this number can double or triple.

Also, I would strongly suggest you do not aim for a budget of only $1,000 a month, because if something were to happen, you’ll need more money – for health care, accidents, paying off some corrupt government officials and so on.

I can advise you to get your income up to at least $2,000 to $3,000 a month … because if you’re living in Myanmar, you’ll be taxed on your location independent income.

Benefits of living in Myanmar

  • Low cost of living

    Myanmar is pretty cheap to live in, like other (and better) countries in Southeast Asia

  • Great weather

    This country's weather is really warm and sunny

  • Economic growth

    Over the last 10 years, the economic growth approaches 5% per year … but if we ignore 2021's -18%, it averages out at more than 7%

  • Easy to get a visa

    As a Westerner, you do not need to apply for an actual visa in advance – you can get an e-visa, visa on arrival, or you might even be exempt

Moving to Myanmar

Downsides of living in Myanmar

  • Civil unrest

    Myanmar’s in a constant state of civil unrest, with protests and riots and other fun stuff

  • Military junta

    After a decade of democratic rule, a military junta has yet again taken power, undoing much of the progress made

  • Very low English proficiency

    Myanmar boasts a very low proficiency in English

  • Taxes on international income

    If you are a tax resident (when you stay there for more than half a year), you have to pay taxes on your international income

  • Elevated crime levels

    Myanmar has some noticeable crime levels. They aren’t extremely high, but are still a factor to take into account

  • Subpar infrastructure

    Myanmar’s a developing country, and it ranks very low on the development index

  • Difficult to get residence

    Getting permanent residence is pretty difficult, and citizenship is probably impossible - nor is it desirable

Moving to Myanmar - by the numbers

Myanmar Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 8/10

Hours of sunshine (8/10) Temperature (10/10) Rainy days (8/10) Humidity (6/10)
27.5 C – 82 F

Level of English: 2/10

Very Low Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

The minimum wage is less than 2 bucks a day, but the average monthly cost is nearly $1,000.

The latter number seems off, but basing the cost of living on the minimum wage of some farmer living in a hut somewhere in the jungle isn’t accurate either.

In general, despite the low minimum annual wage, I’d say Myanmar’s cost of living is similar to that of other Southeast Asian countries.

Taxes on international income: 5/10

0 to 35%

If you stay in Myanmar for more than 182 days, you are considered a tax resident.

In that case, you’ll have to pay taxes on your worldwide income.

If you aren’t a resident, you are taxed only on income derived from sources within Myanmar.

Economic growth: 7.5/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 4.8%

A very decent number, especially considering this takes into account the minus 18% the economy suffered in 2021. If we take the average of 2010 to 2020, we end up at 7.6%, which is really solid.

Safety: 3/10

Global Terrorism Index (1/10) Intentional homicide rate (6/10) Rape rate (2/10)

These numbers require some more clarification.

First off, the rate of terrorism is really high, the 9th-highest in the world.

The homicide rate numbers date back to 2016, when democracy was prevalent. Earlier, the rates were 15+, and it’s likely they will rise again under the current junta.

The rape rate seems low, because rape is severely under reported here.

Officially it’s non-existent … but violence against women and children is so pervasive in this country it’s considered normal.

In addition, there are other safety factors to consider such as rising crime against foreigners, corruption, and so on.

Visa: 4/10

  • Visa (8/10)

    Citizens of Western nations usually do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. Some get a visa on arrival and others can get an e-Visa for tourism and/or business. You can usually stay for 28 to 70 days through this system, which can be extended

  • Permanent Residence (4/10)

    It exists, but I wouldn’t expect too much. It took the government 4 years to grant it to barely 600 foreigners a while ago. Myanmar has one of the most tedious permanent-residence applications in the region, and you can apply if you’re an investor or foreign expert. Once you have it, you still have to pay $1,000 a year to keep it. And there is absolutely no guarantee this ridiculous government will honor it and not kick you out when it pleases them

  • Citizenship (0/10)

    Not possible unless you’ve got ancestors here, or have lived here since 1948. Dual citizenship is not allowed, and having only a passport from Myanmar does not seem like a great idea. Avoid at all costs

living in myanmar

How is life for expats in Myanmar?

Living in Myanmar doesn’t look like a lot of fun.

Sure, the weather’s great and the cost of living is low … but the same can be said about a dozen other countries, which for the most part do not share Myanmar’s long list of disadvantages.

Let’s start with the fact that it is – yet again – ruled by a military dictatorship, which is highly corrupt, punishes free speech, violates human rights, and causes massive civil unrest and even civil wars.

The quality of life is low, and the country is pretty under-developed.

Yes, it is growing at a decent pace – but again, so are a dozen other countries.

Myanmar has a very low level of English proficiency, a tedious residence system and it taxes your international income.

Honestly, the only reason I can see for trying to eke out a living in Myanmar as a foreigner is when you are young and you are willing to rough it and take some risks for many years in order to benefit from the likely economic boom this country will experience in the next few decades.

Myanmar’s near the bottom of the Southeast Asian countries, and I would strongly suggest you consider nations like Vietnam, Thailand or the Philippines instead.

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