Cheapest Countries and Cities
Your annual salary of $30,000 may be enough if you live in a small town, but you can’t live on this salary in NYC. After all, it’s not just how much you earn but also about how much you spend. So if you’re looking for a place to live, you may want to focus your attention to the countries and cities where your dollar can really stretch.
This is perhaps a great option for you if you’re retired or you make your money online. It means you’re not tied to a specific location. So if you earn even just $30,000 a year, there are places all over the world where you can actually live comfortably.
What are Your Options
The cheapest cities to live in can get you a spacious apartment and dining in excellent restaurants, while back in the US your money can, perhaps get you a cramped studio with an annoying room mate and a meal at McDonald’s every now and then.
If you’re considering living abroad, there are quite a few options available for you were the almighty USD ($) and the local cost of living can really help you out. Here’s a list of 10 of the cheapest countries to live in, accounting for the cost of living, including the rent, groceries, and the prices in restaurants.
Let’s also take the time to explain some of the indices. These indices are all compared to New York City costs, so if the number is 100% then it is equal to the costs in New York. If it is 60% then what costs $100 in NYC costs just $60 in that particular country. If it is 140% then it would cost $140.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) refers to the prices of consumer goods such as utilities, groceries, transportation, and restaurants. It does not include rent and accommodations. For that, you can look over the Consumer Price plus Rent Index (CPRI). There’s also a separate Rent Index, Groceries Index, and Restaurant Price Index.
So here are the options according to Numbeo, which is a site that’s used as a reference by many reputable publications such as the New York Times, Time, and Forbes:
- 1. Nepal. This country in Asia takes the top spot mainly because of the ridiculously low rent costs for apartments. The RI is just 3.23 so finding a cheap apartment is not going to be an issue. The CPI is also just 28.85, with a groceries index of 27.8 which is the lowest among all the countries. The 18.66 restaurant price index is also the 2nd lowest.
- Its 16.33 CPRI makes it the cheapest cities to live in while the 28.85 CPI also makes it the 2nd cheapest countries to visit. If you live here, your $30,000 salary in New York feels like you’re actually earning $183,711 a year.
- 2. India. This country takes the second spot with a 16.74 CPRI, which means if you’re a New Yorker who spends $2,000 a month on rent alone, you will be shocked at how much you can get with that amount. In fact, you can find a really nice apartment for just around $300. It’s also the number one among the cheapest countries to visit because of its 26.27 CPI. The groceries index is 28.52 (2nd lowest) and the 15.94 restaurant price index is the lowest.
- 3. Pakistan. There have been quite a few terrorist attacks in this country, but if you can tough it out you’ll find that you can get a lot for your money here. The CPRI overall cost of living is at just 18.05, with the rent index at just 4.81 and a 30.38 groceries index. It’s one of the cheapest countries to live in, and visiting it is great too as the restaurant index is just at 23.5.
- 4. Algeria. There some places in this North African nation you should avoid, but in general you should be safe in Algiers and its main cities. And more to the point, you can get a lot with your dollar as a resident or as just a visitor. Living here is cheap, with a 21.26 CRPI, with a rent index of 7.83 and a groceries index of 33.95. As a visitor, you’ll appreciate the 34.10 CPI with a 26.96 restaurant price index.
- 5. Moldova. Lots of people in the US don’t know much about this country. It was part of the former USSR, and it’s just east of Romania. Moldova is not exactly a prime tourist spot as it is regarded as the least visited country in Europe (9,000 people visited the country in 2011). But your money can get you a lot of stuff, with a 21.51 CRPI, 34.72 CPI, 7.69 rent index, 29.75 groceries index, and 28.38 restaurant price index.
- 6. Tunisia. This country is actually ahead of Algeria among the cheapest countries to visit because its CPI is just 34.06, with the restaurant price index at 23.26 and the groceries index at 31.97. But the rent is slightly higher at 8.47 and the total CPRI is 21.56.
- 7. Macedonia. This ancient country is a great tourist destination, and living here is a breeze as well. You have a 22.56 CRPI, 37.41 CPI, 7.02 rent index, 31.99 groceries index, and 28.48 restaurant price index.
- 8. Bangladesh. It’s a very poor country, but if you’re willing to forego some comforts then the rural areas offer a lot of opportunities for exploration. You can help out by spending your money here. You’re getting a lot for every dollar anyway, with 22.91 CRPI, 39.22 CPI, 5.85 rent index, 40.11 groceries index, and 25.52 restaurant price index.
- 9. Egypt. There’s a change in the air here ever since they changed governments, and women are removing their hijabs. Whether you want to live here or just want to visit the pyramids, it’s going to be affordable. You only have to contend with a 23.43 CRPI, 37.22 CPI, 9.01 rent index, 35.09 groceries index, and 32.04 restaurant price index.
- 10. Philippines. For Americans this country is a great place to move to. It’s a former US colony in Asia, and as a result most of the people speak and understand English and the attitudes and tastes in entertainment are very Western. The newspapers are in English too. They even watch the NBA, as basketball is considered the real national sport. And it’s one of the cheapest countries to live in, with a 24.13 CRPI, 40 CPI, 7.53 rent index, 41.14 groceries index, and 23.13 restaurant price index.
If you’re living in a foreign country, it’s most likely that you’re going to be living in one of the main cities. This is especially true if you’re an American, because as a rule we do like our amenities and creature comforts. Rural areas are fine to visit, but you won’t really want to live there on a permanent basis.
So which are the most affordable cities? If you want to know the truth, the top 13 cities starting with Thiruvananthapuram and Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) are all in India. Then at #14 is Rawalpindi, Pakistan and then there are another 14 cities in India again. India is really a cheap place to live in, and it has more cities than Nepal.
Take a look at Thiruvananthapuram. This place has an 11.85 CRPI, 20.37 CPI, 3.56 rent index, 21.99 groceries index, and 12.74 restaurant price index. That 11.85 CRPI means that if you normally spend $2,000 a month on expenses, now to get the same things (rent, groceries, transportation, utilities) you’ll only spend a mere $237.
So all in all, if we are just talking about the top 10 most affordable cities, they’re all in India. But what if you want to live somewhere else? Here are some of your other non-Indian choices:
- 1. Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This was the capital of Pakistan until 1969. Islamabad and Rawalpindi are sometimes regarded as twin cities. 14.98 CRPI, 25.16 CPI, 5.07 rent index, 23.9 groceries index, and 22.85 restaurant price index.
- There are other cheap Pakistani cities, but for the sake of variety we’re going to focus on other countries instead.
- 2. Bitola, Macedonia. This is the center of everything (administrative, commercial, educational, and cultural) in Macedonia. 15.91 CRPI, 28.37 CPI, 3.78 rent index, 24.27 groceries index, and 19.02 restaurant price index.
- 3. Chisinau, Moldova. Moldova is already one of the really affordable countries, and it remains so when you live in the capital and largest city. 17.01 CRPI, 27.74 CPI, 6.56 rent index, 22.33 groceries index, and 25.15 restaurant price index.
- 4. Valenzuela, Philippines. The people are friendly, and English is not a problem. Valenzuela is in the Metro Manila Region, so just about everything is easily available. 17.21 CRPI, 31.66 CPI, 3.15 rent index, 34.95 groceries index, and 16.45 restaurant price index.
- 5. Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s in the most affordable country in the world, and the city illustrates just how cheap it is here. 17.28 CRPI, 30.93 CPI, 4 rent index, 30.17 groceries index, and 19.04 restaurant price index.
- 6. Nis, Serbia. It has about 250,000 people and it’s one of the oldest cities on the Balkans. It’s also one of the most important industrial centers in the country. Serbia may not be among the top 10 cheapest countries, but Nis is an exception. 17.31 CRPI, 30.35 CPI, 4.63 rent index, 23.66 groceries index, and 26.10 restaurant price index.
- 7. Izhevsk, Russia. It may not be as well-known as Moscow or St. Petersburg, but this city has more than 600,000 people. 19.06 CRPI, 29.74 CPI, 8.66 rent index, 22.72 groceries index, and 35.79 restaurant price index.
- 8. Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. It’s not the capital, but with a million people here, it’s hard to tell. 19.95 CRPI, 30.87 CPI, 9.31 rent index, 25.52 groceries index, and 23.85 restaurant price index.
- 9. Algiers, Algeria. With more than 3.4 million people, Algiers is quite a lively city. 20.25 CRPI, 30.56 CPI, 10.21 rent index, 27.81 groceries index, and 27.21 restaurant price index.
- 10. Tbilisi, Georgia. Roughly 25% of the country’s population live in this capital, and that makes for a lot of excitement. 21.25 CRPI, 30.85 CPI, 11.91 rent index, 24.08 groceries index, and 29.97 restaurant price index.
Affordable Cities in the US
But what about staying in the good old US of A? Are there any cities here which can help you out to stretch your dollar? You betcha. They may not be as affordable as some of the cities in other countries, but the prices can really make you smile.
- 1. Akron, Ohio. 42.42 CRPI, 66.1 CPI, 19.37 rent index, 62.31 groceries index, and 56.33 restaurant price index.
- 2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 42.79 CRPI, 66.97 CPI, 19.25 rent index, 70.29 groceries index, and 64.78 restaurant price index.
- 3. Boise, Idaho. 43.39 CRPI, 64.4 CPI, 22.94 rent index, 57.76 groceries index, and 73.8 restaurant price index.
- 4. Albuquerque, New Mexico. 44.39 CRPI, 66.04 CPI, 23.32 rent index, 74.74 groceries index, and 70.12 restaurant price index.
- 5. Tucson, Arizona. 45.3 CRPI, 66.83 CPI, 24.34 rent index, 72.89 groceries index, and 62.96 restaurant price index.
- 6. Louisville, Kentucky. 45.79 CRPI, 68.01 CPI, 24.15 rent index, 76.67 groceries index, and 56.7 restaurant price index.
- 7. Huntsville, Alabama. 46 CRPI, 73.94 CPI, 18.8 rent index, 81.16 groceries index, and 69.22 restaurant price index.
- 8. Indianapolis, Indiana. 46.54 CRPI, 66.33 CPI, 27.29 rent index, 67.76 groceries index, and 54.52 restaurant price index.
- 9. Reno, Nevada. 46.89 CRPI, 72.59 CPI, 21.88 rent index, 77.66 groceries index, and 65.08 restaurant price index.
- 10. Fort Myers, Florida. 47.29 CRPI, 69.16 CPI, 26.02 rent index, 78.96 groceries index, and 66.81 restaurant price index.
Each of these cities offers a comfortable cost of living, especially when you consider the affordability of rent. The most expensive average rent is in Indianapolis, but what will cost you $1,000 in New York City will just cost you $272.90 here. And even in Fort Myers, your overall expenses should be less than half of what you would spend in NYC!