America has a reputation as being one of the most expensive places to live, but how does it compare to the rest of the world?
To find out, GOBankingRates crunched numbers from around the world to find the places where your money stretches the least when it comes to daily living (i.e., overall cost of living, rent, grocery and restaurant costs), along with the local purchasing power (LPP) that shows how much your dollar can buy. Generally, the higher the overall cost of living and the lower the purchasing power, the higher the country ranked on this most expensive list.
Click all the way through to see the No. 1 most expensive country in the world.
Although it’s home to some of the most romantic cities in the world, Lithuania is also one of the most expensive countries to live in. Renting an apartment in Lithuania, though, will cost you 85 percent less than what you’d pay in NYC, and you’ll spend less than half as much to eat out and buy groceries.
Rents that are 86 percent lower than in the Big Apple are part of the reason Latvia has a cost of living that is 47 percent lower than New York City. In fact, it’s one of the best countries to own property.
However, add in wages that are 80 percent lower than NYC salaries, and it’s one of the most expensive countries to live in for the working person.
Argentina has lower prices than New York City on just about everything from 86 percent lower rent to 55 percent cheaper groceries. However, it’s 151 percent more expensive to talk on a prepaid phone and 56 percent more expensive to fill up your gas tank. The good news: Buenos Aires just got a lot cheaper.
47. Trinidad and Tobago
With rents that are 81 percent cheaper than NYC and groceries at a discount of 47 percent, it’s easy to live the good life in Trinidad and Tobago (compared with other countries on this list). Gas is even cheaper in this island paradise. In fact, it’s one of the best countries for taxes.
But if you work, plan for an income 78 percent less than you’d make in New York City.
Living in Mauritius costs an average of 45 percent less than life in the Big Apple. But you’ll make 85 percent less working at a job there, making it one of the most expensive countries to live in.
Croatia’s high cost of living is relative to monthly salaries that average 75 percent less than in NYC. Rents are 88 percent cheaper, but you’ll pay more than twice as much for a tank of gas and 88 percent more for a pair of jeans.
You’ll pay less for rent, groceries and dining out in Jordan than you would in New York City, but with wages averaging 83 percent lower, it’s easy to see why Jordan is one of the most expensive countries to live in.
Chile might not seem to have a high cost of living, as it’s 45 percent less than the Big Apple. Rents alone are 83 percent cheaper, but be prepared to join the ranks of starving artists in the Land of Poets — wages are 79 percent lower than in NYC.
A cost of living that’s 44 percent lower than NYC might make Portugal look like a sweet deal. However, if you need to work, expect to take home a paycheck that’s 74 percent lower than your Big Apple payday. Combine that with a 48 percent income tax rate, and you’ll soon discover that Portugal is one of the most expensive countries to live in.
41. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most expensive countries to live in when you consider that the average monthly salary is 78 percent lower than that earned by the average New Yorker. Rents are 82 percent lower than in the Big Apple, but those opting to buy a home will pay 133 percent higher mortgage interest than in the U.S.
The cost of living in Kuwait is 43 percent cheaper than New York City, but residents have a slightly higher purchasing power. There’s no personal income tax, which is the financial upside of average salaries that run 48 percent lower than in the Big Apple.
Residents of Estonia enjoy 84 percent lower rent than New Yorkers. If you rely on Estonian income for your livelihood, expect to feel the pinch of a high cost of living with 70 percent less money in your paycheck.
Although the overall cost of living in Bahrain is 40 percent lower than in New York, it’s still one of the most expensive countries to live in. Residents, for example, make 69 percent less than New Yorkers.
The fact that Slovenia’s cost of living is 40 percent lower than New York City might look attractive at first glance. However, residents pay 50 percent personal income tax and live on monthly net salaries that are 67 percent less.
Ghana’s cost of living is 40 percent cheaper than that of NYC, with rents averaging 67 percent less and groceries rivaling New York costs by more than half.
Lebanon is considerably less costly to live in than New York City, but some things are much more expensive. Expect to pay nearly twice as much for a gallon of milk, 59 percent more for a pair of jeans and 53 percent higher mortgage rates.
Although Cyprus has a high cost of living, it’s less expensive than both New York City and the U.S. as a whole. The personal income tax rate is two percent less, rent is 85 percent cheaper than NYC and going out to eat will run you more than a third less.
Jamaica enjoys a cost of living that’s 40 percent lower than in New York City. But before you strike out for the island life, understand it’s still one of the most expensive countries to live in. Mortgage rates are three times higher in Jamaica than in NYC, and the average monthly salary is 92 percent lower.
Life in Spain costs 38 percent less than living in the Big Apple, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheaper across the board. Gas is more affordable than what you’d pay in NYC, and Spain’s personal income tax is 45 percent.
Grecian living might be 37 percent less than New York City, but the country is still one of the 50 most expensive countries to live in. On the other hand, rent is almost laughably cheaper than New York, at an impressive 89 percent difference, which is good because the 45 percent personal income tax rate will take a large bite from your budget.
It’s no secret that Qatar has a high cost of living. The upside is local purchasing power that is 25 percent higher than New York City and no personal income taxes.
Even though Taiwan is one of the most expensive countries to live in, you can rent a place to live for 85 percent cheaper than NYC. Eating out is a deal, too, at 71 percent less, and Taiwanese residents enjoy a local purchasing power that’s 6 percent higher than in the Big Apple.
Although it makes the list of the most expensive countries to live in, Uruguay’s cost of living is about a third lower than New York City. Rent is 80 percent cheaper, groceries are 45 percent cheaper and a meal out costs less than a third of NYC prices.
27. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico costs less to live in than both the U.S. and NYC. Rents are 81 percent lower than in the Big Apple, and groceries are 33 percent cheaper.
26. United Arab Emirates
The UAE is one of the most expensive countries to live in, yet it costs 33 percent less to live there than NYC. Other advantages come through in the local purchasing power that’s 25 percent higher than the Big Apple and no personal income tax.
Although Malta has a high cost of living, there are benefits to living there over NYC. Maltese rents are 71 percent cheaper, and grocery shopping costs 40 percent less.
Canada enjoys a cost of living that’s comparable to the U.S. as a whole. When compared with NYC, however, the Great White North offers around 70 percent savings on rent and 29 percent cheaper groceries. Canadians also enjoy 4 percent less income tax.
23. United States
The U.S. as a whole enjoys a significantly lower cost of living than New York City, despite the fact it’s one of the most expensive countries to live in. The rest of the country also averages purchasing power that’s 28 percent greater than the Big Apple.
It costs 25 percent less to live in Germany than NYC. It also delivers 25 percent more purchasing power. However, Germany’s 47.5 percent personal tax rate makes it one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world.
21. United Kingdom
One of America’s most valuable allies, the U.K. has a cost of living that’s nearly a quarter less than the U.S. as a whole, but it’s still 24 percent cheaper than life in NYC. Britons pay more taxes, though, with a 45 percent personal income tax rate.
Italy has a high cost of living that’s more expensive than the U.S. in general and ranks in the top 20 worldwide. However, costs run 21 percent less than NYC, with rent that’s 77 percent cheaper and groceries costing 32 percent less.
A 55 percent income tax is just one factor that makes Austria one of the most expensive countries to live in. However, a local purchasing power just 1 percent less than NYC and rent that’s 71 percent cheaper softens the blow.
Even though Finland is one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in, rent prices are 70 percent lower than in the Big Apple and groceries run 31 percent cheaper. Residents also enjoy a 20 percent higher local purchasing power.
Life in the Netherlands might be less expensive than in New York City, but don’t fool yourself — it costs far more than life in the U.S. in general. It has one of the least friendly tax climates, too, with personal income tax rates of up to 52 percent.
16. South Korea
Life in South Korea is pricier than across the U.S. as a whole, but it’s still 17 percent less than NYC. Rent is particularly inexpensive compared to the Big Apple, with 77 percent lower prices on average.
You can live life a bit cheaper in Belgium than in New York City, especially when it comes to rent, which is 72 percent less. Residents have a comparable rate of local purchasing power that’s just 1 percent lower than in the Big Apple.
14. New Zealand
New Zealand’s cost of living runs nearly 17 percent lower than NYC, even though it’s one of the most expensive countries to live in. The nation’s income taxes are also lower than the U.S. by about 4 percent.
Sweden’s high cost of living is tempered with 13 percent greater purchasing power than New York City. It also has one of the least friendly tax rates, with personal income tax hovering around 62 percent.
France has a high cost of living, but it’s 16 percent cheaper than life in New York City. You save the most on rents, which are 71 percent less.
Although Australia is one of the most expensive countries to live in, residents enjoy some of the highest purchasing power in the world. The country ranks No. 5 in this regard, granting its citizens 23 percent more purchasing power than in NYC.
Rounding out the top 10 most expensive countries to live in, Ireland is 15 percent cheaper to live in than NYC. You’ll notice the most significant savings on rents, however, which are 53 percent less.
Although Israel has a high cost of living, it’s still 13 percent cheaper than life in New York City. The big savings item is rent, which is 64 percent cheaper.
With an overall cost of living 13 percent lower than NYC, Japan’s rents are 74 percent less than what you’d pay in New York. Expect to pay 8 percent less for groceries and around 51 percent less to eat out, all while enjoying a purchasing power at least 7 percent greater than what New Yorkers are used to.
Life in Singapore costs only slightly less than NYC and comes with a bit more purchasing power. Renters, conversely, will notice prices that are 28 percent less than in Manhattan.
Although it’s marginally cheaper to live in and enjoys significantly more purchasing power than NYC, Denmark ranks No. 4 in the world’s most expensive places to dine out. Expect menu prices that are 13 percent higher than the Big Apple.
Rounding out the top five most expensive countries to live in, Luxembourg boasts a purchasing power that is 16 percent higher than NYC. That power doesn’t apply to dining — it’s the fifth-most expensive place to eat out, and 8 percent higher than NYC.
At first glance, life in the sunny Bahamas costs about the same as living in the Big Apple. However, rent costs 65 percent less, and the country is the third most tax friendly in the world.
Rent in Norway also costs less than half as much as in the U.S., but the food is pricey. Norway ranks the third costliest in the world for groceries and eating out, with restaurant prices going up to 25 percent higher than NYC.
Switzerland has one of the highest costs of living in the world — 31 percent higher than New York City — and the most world’s most expensive groceries. Rents are half of what you’d pay in the Big Apple, but worldwide income tax can run up to 40 percent. You’re even taxed for living in your own home, but Swiss citizens at least enjoy purchasing power that’s 26 percent higher than NYC.
Iceland’s high cost of living isn’t due to its cost of rent. You can rent a home for less than half of what you could in the Big Apple. Food is pricey, though — you’ll spend 33 percent more to eat out and 19 percent more on groceries than in New York. And the local purchasing power is lower than all but one of the other top 15 most expensive countries.
Countries With the Most Expensive Cost of Living
Just because a country has cheap rent and bargain prices on food doesn’t stop it from being one of the most expensive places in the world to live. High taxes, low wages and above-normal costs for transportation can all to contribute to a high cost of living for residents.
Click through to read about the cheapest countries to live in.
More on Saving Money
- How I Draft the Perfect Travel Budget for Any Country
- What is Zero-Based Budgeting?
- 50 Ways You’re Throwing Money Away
- Best Travel Credit Cards of 2019
We make money easy. Get weekly email updates, including expert advice to help you Live Richer™.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the 50 costliest countries (including Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory) by analyzing five different indices relative to NYC, meaning that for New York City, each index should be 100(%). If another city has, for example, a rent index of 120, it means that on average in that city rents are 20% more expensive than in NYC. If a city has a rent index of 70, rents average 30% less expensive than in NYC. Data was sourced from Numbeo on April 5, 2018, and all percentages are approximations.
1. Cost of Living Index: The relative indicator of consumer goods prices including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. Does not include rent or mortgage expenses.
2. Rent Index: An estimate of apartment rental prices in the city compared to NYC
3. Grocery Index: An estimation of grocery prices in the city compared to New York City
4. Restaurant Index: Comparison of prices of meals and drinks in restaurants and bars compared to NYC
5. Local Purchasing Power: Shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average wage in that city. If domestic purchasing power is 40, this means that the inhabitants of that city with the average salary can afford to buy on average 60% less goods and services than New York City residents with an average salary.