Cost of Living in Colombia
Just like many countries, the cost of living in Colombia varies depending on the location, but, overall, the small South American country delivers a low cost of living to its citizens, while offering all the amenities of a more expensive country.

The low prices can be seen across the country in everyday expenses. Real estate ranges from as high as $1,250 a month in a major city to $350 in a small town. The same goes for buying property in Colombia. Land can sell anywhere from $1 million to about $250,000. Additionally, residents spend an average of $75 on utilities such as water, electricity and gas.

Although on average, expenses are generally higher in Bogota, boasting a price index of 88 out of 100, most places in Colombia boast cheap everyday prices for residents. Additionally, compared to major cities in the U.S., the cost of living in Colombia is generally 50 percent cheaper.

Low costs on everyday items are essential for native Colombians, as 27.8 percent of the population lived below the poverty line in 2015. Colombia also faces a 9.2 percent unemployment rate, both of which are caused by the social imbalances and unequal distribution of government programs.

However, with poverty steadily declining, Colombian citizens are able to enjoy more services, such as health care. Health care in Colombia is substantially cheaper than in developed countries like the United States. In fact, Colombian health care is reported to having procedure costs between 50 and 90 percent less than in the United States.

In addition, Colombia is a leading coal exporter, ranking as the world’s fourth largest coal exporter. The country also leads as the second largest coffee and cut flower exporter and is Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer.

The country’s GDP growth averaged 4.7 percent each year in the last decade. While Colombia has seen a recent rise in food and energy prices and an inflation spike, the country is still experiencing a 1.9 percent industrial production growth rate while boasting a $688 billion GDP in 2016.

Additionally, as the peso continues to drop due to the overproduction of oil, in 2016, one U.S. dollar could give residents up to 3,288 pesos, a 25 percent increase from the year prior.

With an increase in certain industries, such as coal and oil, and with the coupling of cheap healthcare and a low cost of living in Colombia, along with improved infrastructure, Colombia is quickly transforming from a country burdened with a high rate of poverty to a rising low cost country with all the amenities of a much more expensive country.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Pixabay

Why Is the Cost of Living in Norway So High?
With its capital, Oslo, ranked as the 59th most expensive city in the world, Norway is anything but cheap. The high cost of living in Norway is a result of its egalitarian social system, which relies on a value-added tax system and minimal variations between incomes among its citizens to sustain its unique economy and socioeconomic structure. However, the social welfare system provided by the Norwegian government as well as the low unemployment rate in Norway are the positive results of the pricey standard of living.

A key feature that defines the high cost of living in Norway is the increased tax rate. From income tax (starting at 28 percent) to value-added tax, Norway’s tax structure strengthens its egalitarian social system. One of the benefits of using this type of social system is that there is a very minimal differentiation between incomes in Norway. This prevents wage-gaps and renders social classes in Norway to practically nonexistent.

While inadequate pay for minimum wage is a problem among many developed countries, Norway has abandoned this concept all together. Most citizens in different employments sectors, from education to food service, earn a living wage. Although this boosts the price of common goods significantly, it also ensures that Norway’s working class does not become impoverished. This socioeconomic ideology is responsible for reducing Norway’s unemployment rate to a minuscule 3.4 percent.

Education, health care and transportation in Norway are all subsidized by the government. High taxes provide for quality public services. This is especially evident in health care for Norwegian families; cash-for-care benefits, as well as free prenatal visits, including maternal and paternal leave, are all covered by the Norwegian government.

Mutual functionalism between Norway’s citizens and government not only allows its economy to thrive but its democratic process too as well. By rewarding workforce participation with quality social welfare, the Nordic model is an economic solution to ensure societal development. Although the cost of living in Norway may seem inopportune at first glance, there is no doubt that the Norwegian social system provides exceptional benefits for its citizens.

Kaitlin Hocker
Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Italy
The cost of living in Italy can be rather high in some ways when compared to the U.S., but less costly in others. Whether the topic is food, clothing, housing or entertainment, living in Italy varies in its levels of expense.

Here are eight facts about the cost of living in Italy:

  1. In U.S. dollars, on average, the monthly rent for a 900-square foot apartment in Italy is around $1,079. A 480-square foot apartment in a cheaper area stands at around $732 per month. This varies from city to city.
  2. It costs around $444 to buy a 40″ flat screen TV in Italy. Depending on the brand, this is rather high compared to the cost of a 40″ flat screen TV in the U.S.
  3. The cost of living in Italy greatly depends on what area of Italy a person is living in. For example, renting an apartment in the city of Milan can cost up to double of what an apartment in Naples would cost.
  4. It is cheaper to buy locally in Italy, rather than to purchase imported items. This is not only beneficial in the aspect of saving money, but it is also a way to support the locals as well.
  5. Big Macs cost around $9.40 in Italy. This is almost $4 more than the cost in the U.S.
  6. Healthcare is free to people who live in Italy. Citizens have the option of paying extra for private healthcare options, but this is not required. This is certainly one of the biggest financial pros of living in Italy.
  7. A medicine that seems to be more expensive in Italy is ibuprofen. In Italy, one pill costs around $1.18, meaning that it costs around $28.32 to get a 24-count bottle of ibuprofen. Name brand 24-count ibuprofen sells for as low as only $3.48 in the U.S. and other countries.
  8. When it comes to travel expenses, citizens have to consider that there are a lot of tolls to pay when traveling by vehicle in Italy. This, combined with the costs of fuel, makes for a rather expensive automobile trip.

These facts about the cost of living in Italy show that there are both pros and cons when it comes to finances for those living in Italy. While some cities in this European country are more expensive than others, it still appears that the cost of living in Italy can be affordable thanks to larger perks such as its free health care benefits.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in Egypt
According to XE, a website that tracks the exchange rates of countries worldwide using “live mid-market rates,” a single U.S. dollar equals E£ 17.86 (Egyptian Pounds). Given how said markets are alway liable to change, this information is accurate at the time of writing. Below are five aspects of Egyptian life and how much they cost.

1. Housing:
According to Expatistan, a website that compiles information provided by expatriates, rent for a furnished 900 square-foot apartment in Cairo costs E£ 5,700 ($319) in what is categorized as an expensive area. The same accommodations in a normal area go for about E£ 3,005 ($165) a month. Utilities for two tenants costs approximately E£ 596 ($33) per month.

2. Utilities: If someone wanted to live in a furnished studio (480 square feet), it would cost E£ 3,867 ($217) in an expensive area and E£ 1,651 ($92) in a regular area. A single tenant’s utility bill comes out to E£ 452 ($25). High-speed internet (8 MBps) costs E£ 277 ($16) a month.

3. Food:
Going by Expatistan’s index for the cost of living in Egypt, food prices are relatively inexpensive. They tend to hover around the E£ 7 (37 cents), which is the cost two pounds of potatoes up to E£ 55 ($3.06), which is the cost of a fast food combo meal. The most expensive items are lunch menu items in Cairo’s business district and a bottle of decent red table wine, E£ 124 ($7) and E£ 149 ($8), respectively.

4. Transportation:
In Egypt, a monthly bus pass runs at about E£ 245 ($14). Taking a five-mile taxi ride during a business day is E£ 34 ($1.89). If one would rather have more control over their transportation, they could purchase a new car for E£ 418,055 ($23,407), with a liter of gas costing E£ 3.92 (22 cents).

5. Schooling:
Egypt’s schooling system adheres to a 6+3+3 framework, meaning “6 years of primary school, 3 years of secondary school and 3 years of senior secondary school.” Education is mandatory for children aged six to fourteen and goes from grades one through nine.

According to Numbeo, another site that provides costs of living indexes for countries worldwide based on a multitude of submissions, private preschool costs E£ 2,114.84 ($118.48) a month for a single child. Yearly tuition at an international private school is listed as E£ 40,486.49 ($2,268.15) for one child.

Overall, the cost of living in Egypt seems relatively balanced. However, it is important to keep in mind that individuals determine affordability.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in South Korea
South Korea is an East Asian nation often overshadowed by its politically aggressive neighbor, North Korea. However, South Korea deserves recognition itself for its green, hilly countryside, old Buddhist temples, coastal fishing villages and buzzing cities. With its capital, Seoul, the sixth most expensive city in the world, South Korea as a whole has a 5.77 percent higher cost of living than the United States (when rent is not included).

Important factors for estimating the cost of living include housing, gas prices, unemployment rate and the average cost of necessary items. Moon Jae-in won the early presidential election on May 9, 2017, so his administration may make changes that impact these factors.

Housing
Low housing prices and rent help bring down the average cost of living in South Korea, especially in major cities like Seoul. Currently, rent in South Korea is 40.27 percent lower than rent in the United States on average for all cities. For example, rent in San Francisco, the most expensive city in the United States, averages 239 percent more expensive than rent in Seoul, the most expensive city in South Korea.

Gas Prices
Higher gas prices raise the cost of living in South Korea. The average price of a liter of gas, which equates to about one-fourth of a gallon, is $1.28 in Seoul. The average price for a gallon of gas in South Korea at the time of this writing is $4.97, while it is only $2.31 in the United States. The expensive gas prices reflect the high tax on fuels that South Korea imposes.

Unemployment Rate
Another factor that impacts the cost of living in South Korea is the rate of unemployment. Low unemployment can actually increase the cost of living in a city or country. South Korea’s unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent in July 2017. Moon Jae-in’s administration plans to focus on job creation.

Average Cost of Necessary Items
Finally, South Korea’s higher average cost of necessary items, such as groceries, increases the cost of living in South Korea. Grocery prices in South Korea are currently 24.66 percent higher than in the United States. For example, an average loaf of bread in Seoul costs $14.82.

This combination of factors makes the cost of living in South Korea moderate. While overall it is costlier than the United States, the two countries differ on certain aspects of measurement.

Lauren Mcbride

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in AngolaAccording to Mercer’s Annual Cost of Living Index, Luanda, the capital of Angola, is the world’s most expensive city. Renting a two-bedroom apartment costs $6,800 a month on average.

Around half of Angolans live on less than $2 a day, which raises the question: how has the cost of living in Angola become so unreachable to most of the population?

Several factors have produced the current economic situation. The Angolan Civil War, which lasted from 1975 until 2002, destroyed the country’s infrastructure. As a result, importing and exporting is a laborious and expensive process. The country’s business elite, who largely control the import companies, have made little attempt to bring down costs from which they profit.

Angola’s large expat population helps explain why the country is able to sustain its status as more expensive than Singapore or Hong Kong, despite the bulk of the population living in extreme poverty. Angola has Africa’s second-largest oil reserves and as a result, a large expat population based in Luanda has high levels of expendable income.

Post-civil war, Angola’s GDP grew at an astronomical rate, reaching 23 percent growth in 2008, buoyed by a flood of foreign investment. Housing and infrastructure failed to keep up. This has left the cost of living in Angola at its current unattainable level, with only Luanda’s expat population able to afford it.

Extreme poverty has indeed declined by one-third since the civil war, but economic inequality has grown exponentially throughout Angola’s oil boom. For rural Angolans, the country’s economic windfall has done little, aside from making the capital city an inaccessible place of extreme expense. The rural poverty rate stands at 57 percent, compared to 19 percent among urban Angolans.

The government is looking for resolutions and bringing down prices on basic foods has been made a priority. If this is successful, Angola’s cost of living can become less of a burden on its largely poverty-stricken population, who are currently shut out of the new wealth the country is enjoying.

Jonathan Riddick

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in FinlandFinland is a Scandinavian country with a population of 5.5 million people. While known for its excellence in education and civil liberties, Finland also has a high cost of living. Near the end of the twentieth century, Finland was announced the world’s most expensive country. Fortunately, the situation has improved. Prices and the cost of living in Finland have decreased since the turn of the century.

According to calculations by the Global Property Guide, a bundle of goods and services costing one dollar in the U.S. would cost $1.03 in Finland. While this is lower than the U.K. and other Scandinavian countries, it is higher than most countries in the European continent.

While housing is usually reasonably priced, certain items drive up the cost of living in Finland. The country has a state-run monopoly on alcoholic beverages, which helps keep prices at 172 percent of the European average. Other items are similarly pricey. Food tends to cost 120 percent of the European average, which is due in part to a significant value-added tax. The average cost of a Coke or Pepsi is $2.44, while the average McDonald’s combo meal is $8.18. A gallon of milk costs about $4.10.

Finns bring home slightly more money in their paychecks than workers in the U.S. The average monthly salary in Finland is about $3,854, while the average monthly salary in the United States is $3,769.

As in most countries, the cost of living varies depending on where you live. The cost of living in the capital of Finland, Helsinki, is significantly more expensive than living in the rural areas. Housing prices in Helsinki are double the prices in the rest of Finland.

While Finns benefit from higher wages and quality education, the cost of living remains higher than in the U.S. or most European countries. Finns don’t seem to mind, though, seeing as Finland was recently ranked the fifth happiest country in the world.

Brock Hall

Cost of Living in the United Kingdom

The cost of living in the United Kingdom tends to vary depending on the location, but can be affordable. In the U.K., a large amount of an individual’s salary will be spent on rent. On average, renting a furnished, two-bedroom apartment will cost about £1,900 per month ($2,607) in an expensive location such as London.

When it comes to the cost of transportation, if one wanted to purchase a Volkswagen Golf (or equivalent) off-the-lot and brand new with no extras, it would be £18,364 ($24,317). However, if an individual prefers the more economical option of public transportation, the United Kingdom is served by a nationwide network of trains as well as long distance buses. With the growth of airlines becoming more and more relatively low-cost in Europe, it is also possible to fly to various cities in Europe at a reasonable cost.

The cost of living in the United Kingdom is less burdened by one of Britain’s greatest assets: the National Health Service (NHS). As of now, healthcare in the U.K. is free to all British citizens, as well as expats from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and EU member states.

Unfortunately, according to Business Insider, the cost of living in the United Kingdom, after Brexit, is finally causing regular Brits to feel the pinch of the slowdown of Britain’s economy, which grew by just 0.3 percent in the second quarter. This is causing individuals to spend less, slowing the consumer boom that had propelled the nation’s economy for the past few years.

In particular, Wales is now facing the cost of living “squeeze.” According to BBC, Andy Haldane, who sits on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, said that certain issues like economic inactivity need to be tackled in Wales; “the pay is flat but the price of goods has gone up… and issues there have included affordable housing, the living wages, mortgages, poverty and transport.”

Sara Venusti

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in ThailandThailand is one of the most popular countries in the world for expatriates. While the beauty of the natural environment is crucial, another important reason is the relatively inexpensive cost of living. In 2015, the International Living Magazine rated Thailand as the 10th best country in which to retire. While Thailand has experienced remarkable economic growth over the past few decades, the cost of living in Thailand still remains relatively low. According to Numbeo, an international price comparison website, the cost of living in Thailand is 36.73 percent lower than in the United States, and rent in Thailand is 58.53 percent lower than in the United States.

Public transportation

A bus fee ranges from approximately THB 8 to 30, depending on the type of the bus. Since one Thai Baht is worth about $0.03, public transportation can cost less than a dollar. Tuk-tuks, the three-wheeled taxis that are common in the country, normally cost THB 40 to 100 for a short ten-minute ride, which is also highly affordable. The base fare for metered taxis is THB 35.

Housing

Cheap rental and housing prices also contribute to the low cost of living in Thailand. Numbeo states that an expensive one-bedroom apartment inside the City Center in Bangkok costs around THB 14,317 (equivalent to approximately $430), which is much cheaper than the rent in major U.S. cities.

Food prices

The food prices in Thailand are also much less expensive than those in most developed countries. For example, the prices of most popular grocery items are as follows: a loaf of bread costs $1.12, which is only half of its average price in the United States, Additionally, a dozen eggs costs $1.65, compared to the average price of $2.23 in the United States.

The street foods are also known for their affordability. A simple meal consisting of rice, vegetables and meat on a single plate ranges from approximately THB 30 to 50, which equals to just more than one dollar. A fancier meal with a selection of dishes that may often include an entire fish would cost from THB 60 to 200 ($2 to $6).

The aforementioned factors are main contributors to the low cost of living in Thailand. However, the high possibility of continued economic growth would gradually increase the cost of living in Thailand.

Minh Joo Yi

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in the United Arab Emirates

While people often banter about giving up their old lives and moving to a new, more exciting country, it’s important to explore the cost of living change that comes with it. It turns out that the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai especially, is higher than one might expect.

Business Insider ranks the United Arab Emirates as 10 points higher on a cost of living expense scale than the United States. Its closest neighbors in relation to cost of living are countries such as the Bahamas and Norway.

This high cost of living is evident in everyday prices. For example, the average monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment is more than $2,654. An average lunch is $15 and a pair of jeans runs to around $82.

In comparison to the United States, even these daily expenses appear slightly steep. Going for lunch rings in around $14 and the same size apartment is estimated to be $2085. Jeans, by the same standards, cost $47.

Many people move to the United Arab Emirates for jobs in the oil industry and the country is known for its lack of income tax. Over the last 50 years, the nation has moved from being ranked 182 in the world for population size to 93. It continues to climb the ranks each year.

Surveys estimate that half of the expatriates, citizens of other countries living in the United Arab Emirates, consider moving elsewhere because of the high cost of living. They argue that their wages are remaining stagnant while the cost of living continues to rise.

Although the increased cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is a side effect of being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the country remains a huge contributor to international foreign aid.

Since its establishment, the total international aid provided by the United Arab Emirates’ government and non-government organizations is estimated to total $47.4 billion. This includes a recently strong focus on finding cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, with particular regards to solar power.

As the country continues to flourish, the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates is expected to increase, but private sector companies pay close attention and work to keep wages high enough to counteract inflation.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr