Do you want to start a new life in a different country but don’t know where? These are the 15 cheapest and most expensive countries to live in.
In times of economic crisis, we often think of moving to a different country for a better life. This is not an easy choice, though, and for several reasons. Leaving behind friends, family, and everything we know is challenging. There are a lot of things to consider. For example, how about the cost of living? Will it be lower or higher than in my country? In a previous post, I talked extensively about leaving everything behind and changing life (like I did). There, you’ll find some helpful information to take this important step.
Everyone has to decide according to their circumstances. Still, if you want more data that will allow you to understand which are the cheapest and most expensive countries to live in, then Numbeo is an excellent website. It has a vast and constantly updated database with data about the cost of living, crime, pollution, and much more from almost all the countries in the world.
The ranking is calculated considering the average price for food, transport, restaurants, bills, rent, etc. The reference data is the city of New York, to which 100 points are assigned. If a city or a country has, for example, a score of 90 points, it means that it’s cheaper than New York. More than 100 points indicate cities or nations that are more expensive than New York.
As these data are about countries and not cities, keep in mind that even if the average score of a nation is high, some cities in that country may not be that expensive.
This ranking only gives a general idea of the cost of living. Furthermore, the cost of living is only one of the factors to be taken into consideration before moving abroad. One thing that is very important to me is the level of pollution (here is the ranking of the most polluted cities in the world), the climate during the year, the quality of the health care system, and the local purchasing power.
This last factor shows how good life is for local people.
Poorer countries tend to have a very low purchasing power. If you travel there, you’ll have the impression that life is cheap, but if you work as a local, it could be VERY expensive. This changes if you have special skills, but you get what I mean.
The 15 most expensive countries to live in 2023
The 15 cheapest countries to live in 2023
Some highlights about this ranking:
- The most expensive country in the world in 2023 is Bermuda, probably due to high import duties.
- Bermuda also ranks first in the Cost of Living plus Rent Index, Groceries Index, and Restaurant Index, while Singapore ranks first in the Rent Index.
- Taking only into consideration the local purchasing power, the ranking changes a lot, and the first five countries with the highest purchasing power are the Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
- Five European countries are in the top ten, and Italy (my country) is 31st.
- Singapore ranks first among the Asian countries; as I wrote here, it’s always among the most expensive countries on that continent.
- The cheapest country in the world to live in in 2023 is Pakistan.
- Pakistan also ranks the cheapest country in the Cost of Living Plus Rent Index, Restaurant Index, Groceries Index, and Rent Index.
- Taking only into consideration the local purchasing power, the ranking changes a lot, and the five countries with the lowest purchasing power are Cuba, Syria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
- Ukraine is currently the cheapest European country to live in (obviously due to the war).
The cost of living in China
China (here’s my travel guide) ranks about halfway: 93rd place. Since I’ve been living in this country for a while now, I can confirm that China is certainly not among the most expensive countries in the world IF you are an expat (so you are paid way more than the average Chinese salary). Considering only the local purchasing power, China has a similar cost of living as Italy.
But the prices are really high if you consider individual cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen. To give you an idea, rent in downtown Beijing (about 80) is around 2000€ per month, and usually, rents in China are paid 3 months at a time (in some cities 6 months at a time).
If you move to a province like Guizhou, rents in its capital, Guiyang, are 5 times lower. So, the difference between cities in China is much more pronounced than in other countries, although the gap is closing rapidly.
In the next few years, China will undoubtedly rise higher in the ranking of the most expensive countries to live in, but it is still a good place for the few expats left. For example, there are reports of teaching jobs in Beijing (for certified teachers) offering about 35000RMB (5000$) per month. This is due to the large number of qualified expats who have left the countries in the last few months due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
What’s the cheapest country you’ve been to? And the most expensive one? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re thinking about changing your life, here are some ideas for becoming a digital nomad and supporting your trips by selling your pictures. Here are my tips on what to see and what to do in Singapore, one of the world’s most expensive and beautiful cities.