The RCG Global Cost of Living Index ranks over 180 world cities according to their living expenses. It takes into consideration numerous variables, such as the cost of food, housing, automobile, health, health insurance, and university tuition. The index does not account for items such as international travel expenses or the cost of furniture. It does, however, include a minimum clothing expenditure. Expenses such as health insurance and university fees are relative to one’s immigration status in each country. Some countries offer subsidized healthcare and education to residents, others not.
The cost of living rating in each city assumes a well-off family of 3. It represents the minimum amount a wealthy family should require to live a comfortable life in each of these cities.
It’s important to factor in the cost of living of the city, rather than the country, perspective. In many places, the cost of living is much lower in rural areas than it is in urban ones. Places like the US have very affordable housing prices when you look at the country average. But compared to the square-foot prices in good neighborhoods in popular US cities, the contrast is staggering.
Some cities have disproportionate costs for certain items such as housing or alcohol. For example, Singapore puts a heavy tax on vehicles, and Monaco has a very expensive property market.
Get a cost of living comparison of major cities. Find out how much you need to earn in different cities to maintain your current standard of living. Check our cost of living index by city below.
The data were collected in December 2020. Annual costs of living are estimated for an upper-middle-class family of three.
Healthcare expenses are often subsidized by the public healthcare system. This is linked to the immigrant’s initial status in each country. The annual costs are quotes from private health insurance companies in different countries based on coverage for inpatient care, emergency evacuation, emergency repatriation, a $0.5M annual limit, and a $5,000 deductible. They apply to a couple with one underage child.
Living expenses refer to most everyday items: groceries, restaurants, clothing, transportation, fuel, utilities, etc. They exclude housing. The estimates were taken from Numbeo’s Cost of Living survey.
Eating lunch or dinner in restaurants: 50% of the time
Choosing inexpensive restaurants: 20% of the time
Frequency of drinking coffee outside the home: low
Going out (cinema, nightlife, etc.): an average of 3x/week per active spender
Smoking: 0.5 pack/day per household
Alcoholic beverages: low consumption
Eating at home: Asian food
Public transportation: no
Sport/Gym Memberships: no
Vacation and Travel: none
Clothes shopping: moderate
Rent is taken from Numbeo’s Property Prices and based on the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in the city center. There can be significant variations between areas in the city center.
University Costs are taken from the RCG University Index. They reflect the annual cost associated with attending an undergraduate program at the best-ranked university in each city.
Source: University Costs were taken from each university’s website (see the RCG University Index).
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