This Is the Cheapest City in the World to Live In

The cheapest city in the world to live in is the most inflation plagued, and one overrun with political strife and violence. According to a survey of the cost to live in 133 large cities around the world, Caracas, Venezuela, is the least expensive, at almost one-tenth of what it costs to live in New York City.

The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its Worldwide Cost of Living 2019 report, which comes out every two years. Currency prices and inflation have a large impact. Inflation in Venezuela last year was 1,000,000%. The government also issued a completely new currency in hopes it could arrest the rise in prices. And a battle for the nation’s presidency has gone on for over a month.

The cost of living in the 133 cities in the new survey is pegged to the cost in New York City. The Economist gives American’s largest city an index reading of 100. The Caracas figure is 15. The city has about 4 million people. The closest city to it on the list is Damascus in Syria, with an index of 25. It has a population of nearly 2 million people. India has three cities among the 10 least expensive. These are Bangalore at 39, Chennai at 41 and New Delhi at 43. These three are also among the largest cities in the world. Delhi has a population of 11 million. Bangalore has over 8 million residents, and Chennai has a population of over 4 million. Several of these are among the 50 largest cities in the world.

The Economist points out that many of the least expensive cities on the list are in economic or political crisis. This is certainly true of Caracas and Damascus. Syria is in the midst of a civil war. Karachi, in Pakistan, another city in a troubled region, is in the 10 least expensive cities section of the report. So is Buenos Aires. Brazil is in the midst of violent shifts in its economy. Lagos in Nigeria, another of the bottom 10, has had violent clashes in the streets as the nation approaches a national election.

The cost of living index includes several items that are not on most lists. Among them is the cost of a man’s two-piece suit and a woman’s haircut. The price of a bottle of beer and a loaf of bread are also included. But the biannual survey’s components are made of much more traditional items for the most part. These include “more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help, and recreational costs.” More than 50,000 individual items’ costs are collected across all the cities.

The 10 most expensive cities on the list are financial and commerce capitals. One is on an island in southeast Asia. Two others that tie with it in cost are in France and China. Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong each has an index reading of 107 on The Economist Intelligence Unit report. They are followed by Zurich and Geneva at 106 and 101 respectively. Switzerland is one of the most productive countries in the world. Japan’s Osaka is indexed at 101 as well. At 100 are Seoul, Copenhagen and New York. In the ninth and 10th places, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv are at 99. Note that the list of 10 stretches to 11 because of ties.

The 10 Least Expensive Cities in the World

Country City Index Rank Change
Venezuela Caracas 15 133 −1
Syria Damascus 25 132 1
Uzbekistan Tashkent 33 131 −19
Kazakhstan Almaty 35 130 1
India Bangalore 39 129 0
Pakistan Karachi 40 127 0
Nigeria Lagos 40 127 3
Argentina Buenos Aires 41 125 −48
India Chennai 41 125 1
India New Delhi 43 123 1


The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Country City Index Rank Change
Singapore Singapore 107 1 0
France Paris 107 1 1
China Hong Kong 107 1 3
Switzerland Zurich 106 4 −2
Switzerland Geneva 101 5 1
Japan Osaka 101 5 6
South Korea Seoul 100 7 −1
Denmark Copenhagen 100 7 1
U.S. New York 100 7 6
Israel Tel Aviv 99 10 −1
U.S. Los Angeles 99 10 4


Note: New York = 100

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