Cost of Living Around the World

There’s nothing like two weeks of travel to get you fantasizing about living abroad.  The thought of ditching the fast pace and high stress of NYC living for the quaint streets of Europe or the laid back feel of an island destination is tempting.  If you haven’t had the chance to do much travel yourself, one episode of House Hunters International is sure to give you the itch to pack up and go.

Other than the personal considerations- being away from family and community, and the professional considerations- legalities of obtaining a work visa, finding employment, etc, there is also, the COST CONSIDERATION.

Cost of Living Around the World

I have mistakenly been under the impression that New York City living is the most expensive in the world for quite a while. I have spent most of my months abroad in places like the Philippines, China, Thailand, Chile, Ukraine, etc where a dollar goes a long way. My last two trips though, to Russia two years ago and just now to Germany and The Netherlands had me rethinking the whole cost comparison.  Everything from t-shirts to sneakers were ridiculously more expensive.  Even the Starbucks had a solid markup; my tall Café Mocha, $4.08 in NYC, was $5.20 in Hamburg!

But I wanted to know more.  How did the cost of living compare beyond the lattes and the retail brands?  What would I have to pay for housing? Transit? Etc?  In my Googling, I came across a website that gives you a full breakdown and percentage comparison between the cost of living in different destinations.   Time to play…

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

To maintain the same standard of life that you have for $6,514.27 in NYC you would need $5,100.00 in Amsterdam.

Living Abroad: Amsterdam

Consumer Prices in NYC are 3.10% LOWER than in Amsterdam.

Grocery Prices in NYC are 21.32% HIGHER than in Amsterdam.

Restaurant Prices in NYC are 15.05% LOWER than in Amsterdam.

Rent Prices in NYC are 93.31% HIGHER than in Amsterdam.

Sydney, Australia

To maintain the same standard of life that you have for $6,560.12 in NYC you would need $6,600.00 in Sydney.  (Pretty comparable)

Consumer Prices in NYC are 15.31% LOWER than in Sydney

Grocery Prices in NYC are 11.53% LOWER than in Sydney

Restaurant Prices in NYC are 1.90% HIGHER than in Sydney

Rent Prices in NYC are 21.98% HIGHER than in Sydney

Florence, Italy

To maintain the same standard of life that you have for $6,555.95 in NYC you would need $5,000.00 in Florence.

Living Abroad: Florence, Italy

Consumer Prices in NYC are 7.54% LOWER than in Florence.

Grocery Prices in NYC are 0.78% HIGHER than in Florence

Restaurant Prices in NYC are 13.22% LOWER than in Florence.

Rent Prices in NYC are 136.54% HIGHER than in Florence.

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

To maintain the same standard of life that you have for $6,488.23 in NYC you would need $5,800.00 in Honolulu. 

Consumer Prices in NYC are 7.06% LOWER than in Honolulu.

Grocery Prices in NYC are 26.82% LOWER than in Honolulu.

Restaurant Prices in NYC are 26.24% HIGHER than in Honolulu.

Rent Prices in NYC are 42.88% HIGHER than in Honolulu.

*All cost of living stats from


Where do you dream of living?  How does it compare?


  1. says

    My partner and I are from New Zealand.. I find it to be hideously expensive here, so we’ll be spending most of the European summer over there, sampling places and maybe finding somewhere we’d like to spend six months of the year, every year!

  2. says

    It’s also important to note where we’re coming from… to an American, Italy might not be a financial shock, but to an Indian, the UK will be terribly expensive.
    Perspectives are essential to take account of.

  3. says

    I love Numbeo and sometimes I’ll just go onto the site and check out the cost of living in random places around the world, just for fun. Vancouver is pretty darn expensive, so we live in a suburb about an 75 minutes out of Vancouver. I don’t know how it compares to New York.

  4. says

    That’s a cool site! I am interested to do some comparisons of my own with other European cities where a number of colleagues work. I guess NYC prices are why they say “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!” LOL

  5. says

    Where we live makes almost anywhere look expensive. Maybe I need to move to NY for a couple of years to really feel like I’m getting a good deal!

    • says

      Really? I had always thought of Colorado as a possible “someday” destination. It seems all the places I’d “someday” like to live are just as expensive as NYC.

  6. says

    I really enjoyed my trip to Hawaii…except for the price of items. Really surprised that it’s cheaper than NYC. I’m not anticipating living anywhere other than the southern U.S. I’ll travel all over but I like the cost of living here in the South.

  7. says

    Glad to know that you had a chance to visit our country, Philippines. Surprisingly NYC and Australia are pretty comparable. My aunt who is currently living in Sydney, Australia told me that the cost of living there are expensive too.

  8. Jacquie says

    Interesting article! I travelled to Korea last year and noticed that eating out was WAY cheaper (and no tipping!), but things like Nike shoes or name brand makeup (MAC, etc) was considerably more. Even trying to buy something like Crest toothpaste would cost you a fortune. But if you bought Made in Korea stuff, most of the time you end up with amazing quality at a really low price. And actually, their skincare and makeup is often a lot better than what we have in North America.

    • says

      The thing that confuses me is why some of the “American” products are so marked up abroad when they’re originally manufactured closer to those countries than the US.

  9. says

    Very interesting. NYC has certainly earned its reputation for being on the most expensive cities and looking at your stats, housing seems to be a huge factor, which makes sense. When I think of NYC and cost of living, the first thing that pops into my mind is your high rent and/or high price of homes. Our prices in LA can be astronomically high too, but I think we also have more places that are affordable too to help balance it out.

  10. says

    Very interesting comparison! Sometimes I wish I could live abroad in such beautiful cities but this reminds that I am thankful to live in the Midwest where living is pretty affordable.

  11. says

    I’ve watched a pathetic number of House Hunters International episodes and have definitely dreamed of moving abroad and making all my money online. With that being said, I don’t see it happening because my wife’s job in psychology will probably always require being physically present, though there may be opportunities to do things abroad.

    Hawaii is definitely a ‘dream’ place of mine to live, but it would be much more expensive than Minneapolis-St. Paul. With that being said, MPLS-STP is becoming more expensive, not less, so it’s all about perspective.

    • says

      Hmmm, I wonder how Hong Kong compares. I was there for 6 weeks with work back in 2008 and loved it, but everything was paid for so I didn’t get much of a sense of relative cost.

  12. says

    Such a good benefit to live in expensive NYC! Makes a move anywhere in the US cheap and anywhere around the world comparable.
    Even though SF is considered expensive, housing is such much cheaper!

  13. says

    This is interesting Stefanie! I visited Florence 10 years ago and fell in love and now looking at your comparisons, it makes me want to live there. I have never had a desire to live in another country but I would definitely love the opportunity to visit lots of them.

    • says

      I always had more of a desire to travel than settle down abroad, but there’s something very special about The Netherlands. It just seemed like such a livable place to me. Though I imagine Hawaii would entice me as well.

  14. says

    This is crazy…honestly I expected hawaii to be higher, but I guess I did not realize how expensive NYC was. When we vacationed there, milk was well over $5.00 per gallon!

  15. says

    It shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s crazy how much higher the cost of housing in NYC than some of those places. If we were to live somewhere else it would likely either be Germany or Ireland. It looks like we’d need a bit more, but the beauty of our job is that we can do it from anywhere. :)

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