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.


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 the cost of living expense scale than the United States. Its closest neighbors in relation to the 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

Belgium's Cost of Living
Belgium is a small and beautiful country that is well known for being the center of European politics. Brussels, Belgium’s capital, hosts the official seats of the European Council, Council of the European Union, European Commission and even the headquarters of NATO. Other than the nation’s international notoriety, Belgium has a reputation for being an excellent place to live, with a booming economy and access to numerous social programs.

However, Belgium does have one downside. This is an incredibly high cost of living. In fact, Belgium’s cost of living is 9.7% greater than in the United States, where the median income is $53,046.

While Belgium’s cost of living may be higher overall, it is lower in all of the right areas. For example, the cost of groceries in Belgium is 4.82% lower on average when compared to other nations, and renting an apartment is 21.25% less expensive. This fact means that people who have a lower income in Belgium have a better opportunity to keep food on the table and more options for long-term housing.

Another point to consider while examining Belgium’s cost of living is the benefits Belgians receive through their government. The average income tax rate in Belgium is 42%, which is the highest tax rate in the world.

Although this high of a tax rate might appear to be an inconvenience, the Belgian government uses the money to fund their extraordinary social programs. Due to these social programs, while the unemployment rate may be 8.4%, only 3.4% of the country falls into the lowest 10% of income. This statistic is a sign of significant social progress.

These income tax payments fund Belgium’s social security system, which is extensive and open to all citizens. Additionally, some allowances are even available to foreigners. The social security system includes unemployment benefits and allowances in the event of sickness or accidents at work. Other benefits include family allowances which could take the form of maternity leave or pensions.

In addition to social security services, medical services are also publicly funded without much additional cost. If a Belgian requires medical care for something as simple as the flu, they will not have to pay much out of their pocket. Without these unexpected costs, Belgians have more of their income to spend on food or other necessary expenses.

Even though Belgium’s cost of living is high, and the income taxes take almost half of each worker’s accrued income, the government provides safety nets that give benefits that far outweigh the costs. Ultimately, the low cost of healthy groceries, more available housing, and government assistance programs make Belgium a great place to live, even if the cost of living in the nation is high.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Ireland is an island that is split into two sections: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, while Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom. These two sections have differences in not only currency (the pound in Northern Ireland, the euro in The Republic of Ireland), but in the cost of living in Ireland as well.

As of July 2017, the difference in currency comes out to 1.14 euros for every one British pound, which is considered a small difference. There are quite a few differences in the cost of buying everyday items in each part of the country as well. The cost of grocery items in Dublin is higher than in Belfast. The cost of alcohol, which includes wine and domestic and imported beer, is on average 42% higher in Dublin.

Although these two cities are about two hours apart, the Republic of Ireland is considered a more expensive city to live in.

The cost of living in Ireland is highly affected by tourism, commerce and currency exchange between the euro and the British pound. Since Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, those countries also affect it as well, whereas the Republic of Ireland is independent.

Belfast’s economy was originally built on commerce, with Belfast Harbor flourishing by furthering trade in 1845. By the time the Titanic was built in 1912, it had become the largest shipyard in the world. Tourism also shapes Belfast’s economy; it is the second-most-visited city on the island.

Dublin thrives just as well as Belfast, if not more so, in tourism. In 2013, Dublin attracted 3.9 million overseas visitors, which generated 1.4 billion euros for the industry. Over 57% of the total number of international students studying in the country are located in Dublin, which also helps the economy.

According to Expatistan, as of July 2017, the cost of living in Belfast in 23 percent cheaper than Dublin. Consumer prices are listed at 29.65% higher in Dublin, with rent prices 151.10% higher in the city as well.

The cost of living in Ireland is even higher than the United States in consumer products, rent and restaurant prices, except groceries, which are 12.05% lower in the U.S. The U.S. does not have to import many grocery items, while Ireland does so quite often. Beer imports have also been greater in the United States, while Dublin is home to the Guinness Storehouse, and by beer production and tourism alone is there is a greater influx of money compared to breweries in the U.S.

Many factors influence these two capitals cities on the island of Ireland, such as commerce and tourism, and, for Belfast, the economy of the U.K.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Living Cost in Japan
Located off the eastern coast of Asia, Japan is an island that lies in the Pacific Ocean. The natives of Japan pride themselves on their homogeneity that they have developed through centuries of tradition. Unorthodox to Western culture, Japan has thrived for a long time by hosting tea ceremonies, Buddhist- and Shinto-inspired gardens and the practice of calligraphy.

Japan is also known for its serene beauty, housing 60 active volcanoes, including Japan’s highest mountain top, Mount Fuji, which peaks at 12,388 feet in elevation. As it stands, Japan has proven to be quite successful as a country, boasting favorable statistics such as a 100% literacy rate for both men and women, a life expectancy rate of 86.6 years for women, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world at 2.8%.

This being said, Japan has also proven to be one of the most expensive countries to live in, ranked 17th in the world according to the Independent.

Here are 5 facts on the cost of living in Japan:

  1. Renting a one-person apartment in the center of Japan cities is estimated at 81,890 yen per month. The price of rent increases to 90,594 yen per month for a three-bedroom apartment. On top of the already high rent, the cost of living in Japan is further increased by 20,120 yen for basic utilities in a 915-square-foot apartment, such as electricity, water, heating and garbage.
  2. The cost of living in Japan varies in price compared to the United States. For example, consumer prices are 14.36% higher in Japan compared to the United States, and the prices of groceries in Japan are 17.77% higher than the price of groceries in the United States. However, the United States has a staggering 50.64% higher rent than Japan does, and restaurant prices in the United States are 44.77% higher than in Japan. According to the Independent, the United States slightly edges out Japan in terms of living expenses. The cost of living in Japan is ranked 17th in the world, while the United States is ranked 15th.
  3. Insurance prices in Japan total to roughly 422,604 yen yearly. Health insurance totals out to about 155,532 yen yearly, while pension insurance adds another $267,072 yen in yearly insurance costs. Insurance prices are considerably affordable considering the yearly base salary of Japan is three million yen, but with a yearly income tax of 63,240 yen, the average net salary for people in Japan comes out to 2,514,156 yen.
  4. Rent in Tokyo is noticeably more expensive than the average cost of living in Japan. Tokyo contains a population of 13.491 million people, roughly 11 percent of Japan’s total population. Monthly rent for housing in more expensive areas of Tokyo costs about 256,432 yen, and utilities for one month costs about 17,835 yen. Other luxuries to decorate one’s housing in Tokyo are also expensive, including 78,987 yen for a 40-inch flat screen television, 24,654 yen for an 800-watt microwave and 906 yen for laundry detergent.
  5. Due to the high cost of living in Japan, Japan maintains one of the highest suicide rates in the world at 41.7 per 100,000 people amongst men. The main reasons for the high suicide rate in Japan are attributed to adverse economic conditions and unemployment rates.

Overall, the cost of living in Japan is high, yet it is not inconceivable to imagine settling down in one of the many cities in Japan. Japan offers a chance at success with its high success rates in education and a strong labor force, thereby offering a steady income to afford the cost of living in Japan.

Patrick Greeley

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in Hong Kong
Just like its skyscrapers, the cost of living in Hong Kong is among the highest anywhere in the world. In a Mercer survey published in June 2017, Hong Kong was named the second most expensive city globally for expatriates to live and first among developed nations.

Hong Kong is a destination city for businesses and professionals alike, boasting over 4,000 individuals worth over $30 million each. Many businesses have found Hong Kong to be one of the most agreeable cities to reside in due to the low 16.5% corporate tax rate.

For the less fortunate, however, the cost of living in Hong Kong is confining– literally.

With a monthly wage of $2,652, the average Hong Kong citizen spends most of their earnings on rent alone. The smallest apartments in Hong Kong cost around $1,000 per month, with more spacious units ranging from $2,000-2,500 before utilities. Many Hong Kong residents work longer hours and split small flats into sleeping cubicles in order to save on rent.

With so much disposable income being eaten up by housing costs, many residents face the very real problem of food insecurity. Going out to restaurants has become a luxury, as many people must now rely on charitable donations and government assistance to eat.

For Hong Kong’s poorest, those living on less than $328 a month, the cost of rent in Hong Kong makes living in the city unsustainable. Over 30% of the city’s elderly population lives in poverty, while the wealthiest families make over 44 times what the average citizen makes.

Economists have urged the government of Hong Kong to institute universal incomes and pensions to prevent the wealth gap from widening. Efforts to address the growing wealth inequality in the country must be made with urgency for the sake of Hong Kong’s struggling citizens.

Thomas James Anania

Photo: Pixabay

In the United States, the first image of Peru that might come to mind is Machu Picchu or an equally stunning mountainous view. Stereotypes aside, those sorts of natural monuments mask the growing economy and standard of living in Peru.

Peru was listed as the 20th most free economy in the world as of 2015, progressing slightly slower than Chile, its southern neighbor. This is due to the decreasing value of copper, gold, silver and other major exports in Peru.

One characteristic of economic growth in poorer countries is that eventually places of historical and cultural values will begin to be preserved even at the expense of population growth or economic growth. For example, a new highway project in Lima was altered in order to prevent the destruction of a historical site.

Due to this growth, Peru is now in a sweet spot where the standard of living is decently high and the cost of living is low. Outside of Lima, $2,000 per month would cover one’s basic expenses. While living in Peru, international supermarkets cost more than grocery shopping at a local market. Interestingly enough, going out to eat at local restaurants often costs even less than shopping and cooking for oneself. You can get a three-course meal for three dollars at a local Picanteria.

One source puts costs of Peru and the United States against each other, and overall, consumer prices in Peru are 45.61% lower than in the United States. Paying rent is 60.37% lower than in the U.S. and paying for groceries is 50.71% lower than in the U.S. Living in Peru makes it easy to stick to a budget.

For anyone looking to retire in Peru, it’s possible to do so at $500 per month, though this makes extremely frugal living necessary. However, Peru is still one of the least expensive places to live in South America and one of the nicest.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr

The cost of living in Croatia is relatively steep in comparison to the minimum monthly wage, though expected growth in the region’s economy and hikes in the area’s minimum wage will benefit its residents trying to make ends meet.

This year alone, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 2.9%, according to the World Bank. In the following year, it is projected to increase by approximately 2.6%.

Items such as service exports, investments and personal consumption all contribute to the economy’s growth.

According to Wageindicator, as of March 2017, the minimum monthly wage in Croatia is just shy of $507. In comparison, approximate month-to-month living costs in Croatia total around $330.

Other expenses such as food, clothing and utilities often push the total cost of living over the minimum monthly wage. This fact means residents might resort to sharing a living space with multiple people, though these spaces are often not intended for more than one person.

According to an article from Croatia Week, in Zagreb, the country’s capital, the average resident will earn a little under $1,000 a month. Of these wages, just over $200 must be set aside for utility bills, according to the article.

A full week’s work is required to cover basic living costs in Zagreb. Approximately 38 hours of work per week are needed in Zagreb to cover the cost of utilities.

Compared to other European capitals, Zagreb has some of the highest utility rates, topping even that of London, one of the world’s most expensive cities.  The cost of living in Croatia is typically greater than that of its neighboring countries.

In recent years, a rise in tourism in the region has increased the cost of living in Croatia. Compared to other Eastern European countries, everyday costs are significantly higher in Croatia, though they are lower than in Western Europe and the U.S.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Living in Germany
Germany is one of the more well-known countries in Europe and attracts people from around the world to visit or to live. With 81.4 million people living in Germany in 2015, and the number ever-increasing, it is one of the most populated countries in the world. Compared to other countries of its size, the cost of living in Germany is quite low.

According to Expatistan, a website dedicated to calculating the cost of living and ranking countries in order of cost of living, Germany ranks 24th in the world in terms of affordability. It is fairly affordable to live in Germany compared to many of the other larger countries around the world. As opposed to the United States, the average monthly salary in Germany is just below the U.S. by a few hundred dollars, at 2,172 euros a month.

As of July 2017, the euro is equal to $1.15. As far as living expenses go, in order to rent a one-bedroom apartment in an outside city, rent is approximately 656 euros or $748.07 per month. A three-bedroom apartment in a more populated city bumps up the price to 1,261 euros per month, which is still cheaper than most major cities in the United States. It is the less expensive option to live outside of the city and live in the suburbs than the major cities.

Some of the common food options that are available in Germany are cheaper than around the world as well. Milk is 0.70 euros (80 cents) and a loaf of bread sits at 1.27 euros ($1.45). Both bottled water and a bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi are both more expensive in Germany though, sitting at 1.68 euros ($1.92) and 2.07 euro ($2.36) respectively.

For upper schooling in Germany, the average person spends around 850 euros on living expenses, possible schooling fees and health insurance. This is much less than what others in Germany pay on average per month.

On the whole, the cost of living in Germany is inexpensive compared to many other spots around the world, including the United States. Germany’s markets and living expenses are cheaper than many other places around Europe.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Barbados
The island country of Barbados is known for its sun, clear beach water and for being Rihanna’s country of origin. The decent cost of living in Barbados and its wealth are also relatively well-known. At the time of publication, one Barbados Dollar (BBD) is worth 50 cents in U.S. currency.

Numbeo is a database of user-submitted information detailing the costs of living in cities and countries worldwide. According to its indexes, the cost of food in Barbados is fairly inexpensive. In Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, the most expensive market items are a gallon of milk ($23.08 BBD/$11.54 USD) and a mid-range bottle of wine ($32.50 BBD/$16.25 USD).

Housing prices vary greatly depending on whether or not the location is in or near a city center. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs 1,083.33 BBD ($541.67) per month or 2,125 BBD ($1,062.50) for a three-bedroom apartment. Outside the city center, the prices drop down significantly to 830 BBD ($415) and 1,700.00 BBD ($850) for one- and three-bedroom apartments, respectively.

Monthly utilities (such as water, heat, gas, garbage and electricity) for a 915-square-foot apartment cost approximately 220 BBD ($110) per month. High-speed Internet access costs about 85 BBD ($42.50).

Expatistan is a site devoted to giving expatriates reliable data for the costs of living. It lists the price of a new small car with no extra enhancements (specifically the Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 150 CV) in Bridgetown as 81,881 BBD ($40,941).

A monthly pass for public transportation will run someone about 81 BBD ($40).

In Barbados, education at government-run schools is mandatory and free through the secondary level (this includes children ages five to 16). Parents have the option of enrolling their children in a public school, but they will incur various fees, the most expensive of which is around 15,000.00 BBD per term (or $7,500).

Because of this education system, the country’s literacy rate is a stellar 99.7%.

Overall, the cost of living in Barbados is one element that earned the island country its status as the Eastern Caribbean’s most developed and wealthiest country.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr