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.

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 (for info on buying prices check out IMB Home Loans).


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?


*image credit

{ 40 comments… add one }

  • catherine gacad May 7, 2014, 11:21 am

    i’ve always wanted to live in nyc, but that ship has sailed. i’m just so happy to get out there a couple times a year. works for my budget!

    • Stefanie May 7, 2014, 10:35 pm

      It’s a special place… though so is San Fran!

  • Izy Berry - Wealth Way Online May 3, 2014, 8:13 am

    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!

    • Stefanie May 4, 2014, 9:24 am

      Wow, that sounds fantastic. Enjoy!

  • escapadist May 2, 2014, 5:22 am

    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.

    • Stefanie May 2, 2014, 7:39 am

      Absolutely. That site, allows you to compare any two cities in their database worldwide which is pretty cool.

  • Daisy @ Add Vodka April 25, 2014, 12:02 am

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 5:58 am

      I had never heard of Numbeo, until I googled comparative cost of living. Oh man, now I’m gonna be addicted.

  • debt debs April 24, 2014, 10:39 pm

    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

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 5:58 am

      Haha, so true. The site is really awesome. They have a lot more detailed breakdowns on there.

  • Kim April 23, 2014, 10:49 pm

    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!

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:01 am

      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.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 April 23, 2014, 10:00 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:03 am

      As a raging liberal, I don’t think I could ever live in the South ;) Though the cost of living sure sounds nice.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach April 23, 2014, 8:51 pm

    I’m really surprised to see that about Honolulu, especially groceries because food in Hawaii is expensive!! Gosh rent in NY will get ya huh?

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:04 am

      It seems NYC isn’t too bad comparatively until you factor in the rent.

  • Marie @ 724 Credit April 23, 2014, 8:07 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:04 am

      I LOVED the Philippines. I was there for two months back in 2008!

  • Jacquie April 23, 2014, 4:11 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:05 am

      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.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse April 23, 2014, 1:46 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:08 am

      Yeah, it’s definitely the rent that gets ya. Otherwise, I’ve found that prices can be reasonable if you know where to look.

  • Liz April 23, 2014, 1:21 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:08 am

      It seems everywhere I dream of living has a high cost of doing so ;)

  • DC @ Young Adult Money April 23, 2014, 1:07 pm

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:10 am

      House Hunters International is addictive! My dream is similar to yours. Luckily (or unluckily), I can still be selfish with my choices :)

  • April 23, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Didn’t realize Australia was so expensive. Glad you included honolulu here. I would love to split time in Nyc and Hong kong. We can all dream right?

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:11 am

      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.

  • EL @ Moneywatch101 April 23, 2014, 12:35 pm

    It seems like Amsterdam is a great deal when compared to NYC. I always wondered how it would be to live in Europe. Next Goal is to get blog income to match the 5 grand COL.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:13 am

      To get blog income up and then be able to travel anywhere in the world would be pretty awesome.

  • Financial Samurai April 23, 2014, 12:27 pm

    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!

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:16 am

      Good point. I’ve become such an expert at finding deals in NYC though, a move to an unknown place might actually be more expensive for me :)

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde April 23, 2014, 11:38 am

    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.

    • Stefanie April 25, 2014, 6:15 am

      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.

  • Retired by 40 April 23, 2014, 11:03 am

    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!

    • Stefanie April 23, 2014, 11:13 am

      I thought Hawaii would be pricier too. I’m sure there’s a lot of variables to consider too.

  • save. spend. splurge. April 23, 2014, 10:48 am

    The U.S. is one of the cheapest First World countries and Australia / NZ are one of the most expensive ones.

    That said, it varies by city. London is far more expensive than NYC for instance.

    • Stefanie April 23, 2014, 11:12 am

      I really had no idea until a few years ago. I’m starting to appreciate NYC a lot more :)

  • John @ Frugal Rules April 23, 2014, 10:40 am

    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. :)

    • Stefanie April 23, 2014, 11:12 am

      It’s the housing cost that throws everything off. Otherwise, the day to day expenses are much higher abroad.


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