After my travels searching for the best countries to retire cheap, I’ve made up a checklist of 3 essential things to bring to Asia and 1 thing you don’t need. There’s so much that you can buy here and 99% of the time you can get it easier and cheaper in Asia.

The first thing I’d recommend bringing is a water purification style water bottle. You can’t drink the tap water here. Most of the places you are going to go have purified or bottled water for sale. Big jugs of water cooler style bottles were available to be refilled at from the places that I lived in. These big jugs bottles are $1 to buy and should be free if you’re renting a room. You can also buy bottled water at any 7-11 or supermarket for roughly 50 cents. In the Philippines on the street you can buy bags of drinking water for 10 cents. Literally there are little machines on the street where you put in coins to buy a half a water bottles worth of drinking water. Water cost can add up if the place you are staying doesn’t provide it free. Two of the hotels in Bangkok I stayed in didn’t have free water.

I’ve been in situations where the bottled water has run out.  One house I was at didn’t get their water cooler bottle delivery one night, and just like that no water. If you don’t have a water purifying bottle you’re going to have to either rustle up a kettle to boil water in, or make a late night run to a mini market. It’s amazing how thirsty you get as soon as know you have no readily available water.

The second item I’d recommend packing is a universal power adapter. While I had no problems in Thailand or the Philippines, Malaysia has a different prong type. I’m also going to include bringing a surge protector. These aren’t easy to find, and when you do see them for sale they might not be as trustworthy as one from home. Just think what would happen if while abroad all your plugged in electronics get fried. No phone, no laptops, no e reader? I’d be in emergency panic mode immediately.

The third item I cannot live without is my e reader. I’m using an older Kindle most of the time, but I’ve also brought along a spare Sony ePub just in case. If you love reading, you need to bring this. In most of the houses of other expats I’ve seen a Kindle hanging around. Pre load all the books you can. Amazon has an unlimited monthly $10 plan as well. (You don’t need a Kindle for this subscription.) I read every day, and when the spotty wifi is down or non existent I just whip out the Kindle, boredom solved.

Weights in your luggage are going to be limited, so I’m going to include 1 item you definitely do not need. Any book that you might have that are travel books. Those “guides to…”and “amazing trip…”books can all stay home. They’re heavy, full of knowledge you can get online, and sometimes just out of date. If you think they’re super essential cut out some relevant pages, believe me paper books of all kinds should stay home.

That’s all! Enjoy your exploration of which countries are best to retire cheap in. If you have an essential item feel free you feel should be on this list feel free to leave a comment.