Do you want to start a new life in a different country but you 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 in search of a better life. This is not an easy choice though and for several reasons. Leaving behind friends, family, and everything that we know is a challenge. 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? I talked extensively about leaving everything behind and changing life (like I did) in a previous post. There you’ll find some useful info if you want to take this important step.
Everyone has to decide according to their own circumstances, but if you want to have some 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 very huge and constantly updated database with data about the cost of living, crime, pollution, and much more from pretty much 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 which 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 though. 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 is what actually gives an idea of how good is life for local people.
Poorer countries tend in fact to have a very low purchasing power. This means that if you travel there you’ll have the impression that life is cheap, but if you work as a local, it could actually be VERY expensive. This obviously 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
- Sri Lanka
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 Rent Index, Cost of Living plus Rent index, Groceries index, and Restaurant 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: Luxembourg, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and United States.
- Four European countries are in the top ten and Italy (my country) is in 35th place.
- Singapore ranks first among the Asian countries and 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 as the cheapest country in the Cost of Living plus Rent index and Groceries index. Sri Lanka ranks first in the cheapest Restaurant index and Bangladesh is the cheapest country in the 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, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
- 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: 83rd 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 if you consider individual cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen the prices are really high. To give you an idea, rent in downtown Beijing (about 80sqm) 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 certainly rise higher in the ranking of the most expensive countries to live in, but for the moment it is still a good place for the few expats left. Just to give you an example, currently, 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 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 most expensive and beautiful cities in the world.