Comparison of worldwide cost of livingLiving ist most expensive in the Bermudas and cheapest in Palestine. In our ranking of 103 countries all around the world the USA comes in 17th.
The cost of living is calculated periodically in nearly representative baskets of consumer goods. But many factors complicate worldwide comparisons. E.g., a typical apartment doesn’t have a standard size nor fittings. Even the quality of a branded packet of butter isn't the same in developing countries. Consequently, comparisons like this have to to be looked at with caution.
In addition, the level of the prevailing average income should play a role in a cost comparison.
Cost of living and purchasing power related to average incomeWe adjusted the average cost of living inside the USA (based on 2022) to an index of 100. All other countries are related to this index. Therefore with an index of e.g. 80, the usual expenses in another country are 20% less then in the United States.
The monthly income (please do not confuse this with a wage or salary) is calculated from the gross national income per capita.
The calculated purchasing power index is again based on a value of 100 for the United States. If it is higher, people can afford more based on the cost of living in relation to income. If it is lower, the population is less wealthy.
The example of Switzerland:
With a cost of living index of 139 all goods are on average about 39% more expensive than in the USA. But the average income in Switzerland of 7,550 USD is also 28% higher, which means that citizens can also afford more goods. Now you calculate the 39% higher costs against the 28% higher income. In the result, people in Switzerland can afford about 8 percent less than a US citizen.
|Rank||Country||Cost index||Ø Monthly income||Purchasing power index|
|1||Bermuda *||157.9||10,206 USD||109.3|
|3||Cayman Islands *||138.3||5,157 USD||63.1|
|5||Turks and Caicos Islands *||124.6||1,784 USD||24.2|
|16||New Zealand||102.5||3,769 USD||62.2|
|17||United States||100.0||5,911 USD||100.0|
|19||Puerto Rico *||97.7||1,882 USD||32.6|
|21||United Kingdom||95.5||3,707 USD||65.6|
|30||South Korea||77.7||2,926 USD||63.7|
|32||Hong Kong *||73.2||4,538 USD||104.9|
|37||United Arab Emirates||67.2||3,481 USD||87.6|
|38||Macao *||66.7||3,871 USD||98.2|
|40||Costa Rica||59.6||1,026 USD||29.1|
|49||El Salvador||48.2||355 USD||12.5|
|57||South Africa||42.5||544 USD||21.6|
|59||Saudi Arabia||42.2||1,795 USD||71.9|
|67||Ivory Coast||37.3||202 USD||9.2|
|101||Sri Lanka||19.0||336 USD||29.9|
The calculated cost of living index is based on the OECD, the Worldbank, the IMF and Eurostat figures and has been completed by our own researches. It does not take into account the differences between poverty and wealth, as well as prices for goods that do not belong to normal needs. Therefore this list should be regarded as a mathematical theorem. Whether it is realistic to survive with a purchasing power index of 3.5 (Haiti) does not matter in this table. This would correspond to about one-29th of the purchasing power inside the US.
Quality of life in relation to cost of livingIn the search for a potential adopted country, the cost of living usually has the highest priority. However, other factors such as medical care or political stability should also be taken into account. In a further evaluation, we compare numerous factors of different countries in order to derive a ranking for the quality of life.
Other indicesThere are some other indices, e.g., the study by the Swiss bank UBS issued about every three years or from the EDA (Federal Departement of Foreign Affairs). Both studies refer only to some few and usually large cities in which UBS and Switzerland have representation.
* The marked countries are not independent and sovereign states, but dependent territories of other states. Cf. also our article What is a country?