Cost of Living in Australia
Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world and has less debt than the majority of other highly-developed countries. The nation is expected to have continued economic growth and has bypassed the threat of a recession for 26 years.

Partially due to the strong economic atmosphere, the cost of living in Australia is significantly higher than countries with comparable economies. It costs approximately 12% more to live in Australia than in the United States. Public transport, name-brand clothing, hotel rooms and sodas are all far more expensive in Australia than in many U.S. cities.

While the high cost of living in Australia may be a deterrent for many, one must also consider the methods in which these figures are drawn. One source points out that the Deutsche Bank survey, that the Australian cost of living is based on, must choose specific brands for comparison. Not only is it possible for the availability of these brands to vary from country to country, but prices can also fluctuate from season to season, depending on the industry. However, the cost of living in Australia is still considerably more expensive at face value.

It is also important to note the difference in wages between Australia and other economic leaders when considering the cost of living in Australia. The minimum wage is set at $14.02 in Australia, which is higher than any other developed country. For comparison, the federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.99 and $11.61 in the United Kingdom.

However, the poverty rate in Australia is comparable to more developed countries. From 2003 to 2004 and 2013 to 2014, the poverty rate in Australia rose from 11.8% to 12.6%. Whereas the poverty rate for the U.K. in 2013 was around 15% and 14.5% in the U.S.

While there are various factors for judging the livability of a country, Australia appears to be faring exceptionally well when taking into account that its stats are very similar to the most economically sound countries in the world. Australia’s GDP, according to the 2017 OECD data, is $9,555 less than that of the U.S., but $5,119 more than that of the U.K.

Although the cost of living in Australia may be higher than many other countries of its standard, the standard of living seems quite comparable. Australia continues to be a strong economic leader with every intention of staying that way.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Switzerland
Known for its delectable chocolate and incredible skiing, the high cost of living in Switzerland is another of the country’s claims to fame. Switzerland ranks above other expensive countries such as Luxembourg and Hong Kong by being the second most expensive country in the world, according to Numbeo. With a gallon of milk costing about $6.50 in Geneva and gas reaching almost $5 a gallon, there is no hiding from high prices.

Geneva, the second-largest city in Switzerland, is 44% more expensive than New York City. The average family of four spends over 5,000 dollars a month on regular expenses. Hailing from the most expensive country in Europe, these expenses have become the norm across the land-locked country.

A dwindling unemployment rate of three percent has helped boost an already booming economy. In addition, the average yearly income is above $35,000, while in the United States it is only around $29,000. These factors contribute to one of the highest qualities of living in the world. A recent poll demonstrates that the Swiss give their quality of life a 7.6 out of 10. The average around the world is a 6.5 out of 10, revealing how high Switzerland ranks in all aspects of life.

If not for the high cost of goods, Swiss bank accounts have long kept Switzerland associated with the wealthy. After passing the Banking Law of 1934, the identities of Swiss bank account holders legally became confidential. This law made it a criminal offense to reveal any information pertaining to Swiss bank account holders. For example, Wegelin bank helped Americans to conceal $1.2 billion from the government in order to evade taxes. The confidentiality that comes along with a Swiss bank account is the driving force behind so many foreigners creating offshore bank accounts in Switzerland. This has contributed to the high cost of living in Switzerland.

With the most expensive Big Mac in the world at $6.59, there is no sector of life untouched from the high cost of living in Switzerland. These exuberant prices come with one of the most scenic countries in the world. Switzerland’s mountains and picturesque towns offer exactly what you pay for. Although the high prices are not going anywhere, the cost of living in Switzerland represents the money it takes to live the ideal life.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Chile
The cost of living in Chile is fairly steep compared to its neighboring countries, and poverty in the region has made it difficult for low-income families to live comfortably. However, recent hikes in the country’s minimum wage have begun to lessen the burden of the high cost of living for low-income families.

According to an article published in International Living, Chile has one of the highest costs of living relative to what people earn in South America. Despite the country’s relatively high living costs, Chile’s infrastructure and its middle class have continued to steadily develop. The economy is also considered to be fairly stable.

The article found that when living comfortably in downtown Santiago, the capital of Chile, monthly rent was a little over $400 per month and building fees were close to $100. Electricity costs around $50 each month and essential items came to about $80. Overall, the monthly cost of living in this city was just shy of $1,000, which is more than two times the average monthly workers’ wage.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Chile’s monthly minimum wage rose to 270,000 pesos ($400) effective July 1, 2017. The monthly minimum wage is expected to increase to 276,000 pesos ($409) starting January 1, 2018.

A report from the United Nations revealed that the cost of living in Chile is often overlooked when poverty is examined in the region. Philip Alston, a United Nations Special Rapporteur, said that because of Chile’s noteworthy anti-poverty programs, poverty in the region often goes “under the radar.”

“It remains to be seen whether the current middle class-driven political and social agenda will pay sufficient attention to the tragedy of those living in poverty,” he said in the report.

Alston added that poverty and economic inequalities are persistent in the area. “Persistent inequalities result in a highly segregated society, in which separate residential areas, separate schools, and separate employment markets operate to entrench privilege and stifle mobility,” he stated.

While the cost of living in Chile has become slightly less stressful to members of the lower class, the country still needs to make great strides ahead in order to support its low-income families.

Leah Potter

Photo: Pixabay

Aruba, known for their slogan, “One Happy Island,” is just one of four countries that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has been a desired tourist spot for vacationers due to its dry and reliably warm climate. Tourism dominates the economy with over one million tourists per year, mainly from the United States.

For an island as small as Aruba, 20 miles long by 6 miles wide, the cost of living in Aruba would seemingly be low. Yet, due to the size of the island, Aruba’s economy primarily depends on tourism as 30 percent of the island’s income, as well as aloe exports and petroleum refining.

In a July 2017 Aruba Economic of Affairs report, 2012 was said to have tourism receipts of 2,504.9 million Aruban Florin. This factor heavily affects the cost of living in Aruba.

In June 2017, $1 was equivalent to 1.79 Aruban Florin. Many businesses operate on the U.S. dollar instead of florins, especially in the resort district.

Compared to the U.S., rent prices are about 31 percent lower in Aruba, and restaurant prices are about 11 percent lower. While housing rent in and out of city centers tends to be significantly less than in the U.S., buying property tends to be more expensive. Costs such as utilities and income tax are often the most expensive part of the cost of living in Aruba.

Due to the poor soil quality and low rainfall, agriculture on the island is limited. This causes Aruba to have an increase in the import of groceries at a 5.75 percent increase over U.S. prices, due to its imports of milk, beef and fruits.

Aruba may rely on those imports to make up everyday grocery items, but the island is known to have the world’s third largest desalination plant. This allows Aruba to produce potable industrial water, makes the island independent from other sources and cuts the cost of bottled water.

Although tourism has been the main source of income for Aruba, imports and exports have continued to heavily influence the cost of living on the island. Aruba may heavily depend on its imports, but the government is making efforts to expand exports as well so as to balance trade and allow a balance in the cost of living as well.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

From the Senne to the Mediterranean, France is hailed as one of the most expensive countries on the globe. With delicacies such as escargot and macarons, it’s no wonder the cost of living in France is higher than in most nations. The capital city of Paris ranks among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, with the country as a whole being among the top 20 most expensive countries in the world.

Everything from gas to a loaf of bread has an inflated price in France. The average price per gallon of gas in France is around $5.54. The same amount of gas in Venezuela would be about $0.12. These countries couldn’t be farther apart in distance, and their people have near polar opposite lifestyles, demonstrating the wealth disparity and high cost of living in France.

Housing is arguably the biggest factor in living cost, and France is a prime example of a competitive housing market. Paris is on par with other major cities such as Beijing and Chicago in terms of monthly price. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Paris per month is $1,730. The same apartment over 5,000 miles away in Beijing would be $1,900 a month.

It is not always the average person looking for a place to live in France. In 2016, a villa in southern France was estimated to be valued at $1 billion. Many have reported this house to be the most expensive in the world.

Currency also reflects a country’s cost of living. The euro has been volatile in recent months but is consistently valued higher than other major currencies, such as the dollar. Over the past three months, the euro has steadily grown to four percent more valuable than the dollar. This disparity increases cost of living in France.

From the French Riviera to Normandy’s beaches, France is regularly one of the most expensive places to live. Paris tops many lists with its exuberant prices and is widely known to be exclusively for the wealthy. This ideology is not solely in Paris, as cities across France continue to see prices soar for everything from rent to a loaf of bread.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr


With a small cost of living and a luxurious lifestyle to offer, Costa Rica is an ideal location for retirement, particularly for Americans. Not only is the scenery breathtaking, but the cost of living in Costa Rica is even more alluring.

Surprisingly enough, day-to-day living costs are much more affordable in Costa Rica than in both the U.S. and the U.K. At the end of 2016, the minimum monthly required income for a single person in Costa Rica was $1,500 to $2,000. A majority of retired couples succeed on as little as $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

Medicare costs in Costa Rica are very affordable. Most consider the medical care to be of exceptionally good quality, yet it comes at a low monthly cost that includes free services.

The monthly cost to rent a lavish condo in Costa Rica is a mere $500 to $900 dollars. In many other countries as well as most of the U.S., this amount will hardly cover a basic, low-quality apartment.

As far as services go, the cost of electricity is around $200 per month, high-speed internet lands at a small amount of $25 per month and there is a $200 monthly fee for hiring a full-time maid if a resident desires to have one.

Food costs are astoundingly low as well, with a dozen bananas costing a mere $0.42. Fresh bread loaves cost about $1.25, and a pound of tomatoes is only $0.35. For Americans, this amounts to a 45% savings for the average amount of purchased groceries.

The low cost of living in Costa Rica combined with the beautiful landscapes and relaxing beaches is enough to make it the perfect place to live or retire. In fact, Costa Rica often gets mentioned on lists of best places to retire for this very reason. Those who are looking to move and have no ties to their place of origin will find Costa Rica to be a very affordable and appealing option.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in the Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic is a nation with white sandy beaches, tropical fruit and happy people. However, while the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is relatively low, many of its citizens live in poverty.

The cost of living in the Dominican Republic is 32.74 percent lower than in the United States. Their currency is called the Dominican Peso. As of 2017, one Dominican Peso is equal to 0.021 United States Dollar. The cost of living in the Dominican Republic is thus relatively cheap compared to living in the United States.

For Dominicans who want to leave the Dominican Republic, challenges arise because the exchange rate is quite high. As for tourists, it is usually cheaper to vacation in the Dominican Republic because of the inflated value of their money.

The Dominican Republic has an incredibly high poverty rate. In fact, a third of the nation’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and more than 20 percent live in extreme poverty.

For the poor, it is extremely hard to escape the cycle of poverty. Though the tourism market provides some income, it is definitely not enough.

As for a middle-class Dominican, it is fairly inexpensive to live in the Dominican Republic. According to Numbeo, rent is about 70 percent lower in the Dominican Republic than in the United States. Regarding healthcare, it remains one of the cheapest systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Although the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is somewhat inexpensive, the nation also suffers from a high crime rate.

Much of the poverty is due to a lack of governmental organization. The Dominican Republic’s government focuses more on tourism and less on its citizens’ welfare. Even though the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is cheap, it can still be expensive for the poor.

Francis Hurtado

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in Panama
Known for its 48-mile canal connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean, Panama receives over a million visitors each year. Panama’s beautiful beaches, ecotourism and international festivals can seduce many tourists into making Panama their home rather than a vacation spot. For those who entertain the thought of Panama as their permanent home, it is important to know the cost of living in Panama as well as what it’s like to live there.

Panama has a relatively low cost of living, which can range from $1,120 to $8,000 per month for two people, while the average middle-class salary in Panama is estimated at $1,200 per month. These costs fluctuate depending on what region or city you are going to be living in Panama.

The unemployment rate in Panama is 4.5%. The labor force in Panama is made up of 1.78 million people; a large majority of the population works in services while the rest works in agriculture and industry. The standard workweek in Panama is 48 hours, which is 8 hours more than a full-time work week here in the United States.

While the cost of living in Panama is low, migrants should know much more about Panama before making the decision to move there. For example, while Panama’s crime rate compared to other Central American countries is relatively low; however, it is still high compared to most of the United States. Panama, Colon, Herrera and Chiriqui are among the provinces with the largest cities which had the highest overall crime rate. There has been a pattern of decreasing crime in Panama. Homicide, armed robberies and petty theft rates have all continuously fallen.

Moving from the United States to Panama may come as a huge shock when you realize that Panama’s population is only four million. Approximately one-third of Panama’s population lives in Panama City or the immediate area around it. Panama City is packed with nightlife, shopping areas. The rest of the areas in Panama provide a quiet and relaxed life which provides quicker access to Panama’s nature.

There are many things to consider and know about Panama before turning your yearly vacation into a forever home. While Panama may be very appealing to the eye and its beautiful attractions may coerce someone into a quick move, the cost of living in Panama may be a deciding factor.

Danyel Harrigan

Photo: Flickr


Jamaica attracts people from all over the globe. Its beaches and comfortable atmosphere make it a dream destination for everyone from tourists to expatriates to some retirees. Due to how quickly currencies can appreciate and depreciate, calculating exact figures for the cost of living in Jamaica is difficult.

Living Expenses

As of the time of writing, one USD is worth $128.85 Jamaican Dollars (JMD). As an upper middle-income country, the island’s government has made many efforts to invest in and improve the living conditions of its people. One result of this investment is that buying certain foods (excluding milk) locally instead of importing them is the more economically sound option. However, everyday items such as toothpaste are more expensive on the island.

How much one should expect to pay for rent depends on location and size of the space. According to Expatistan, a site dedicated to helping expatriates by providing indexes of the costs of living around the world, renting a furnished 900-square-foot apartment can cost either $104,114 JMD ($814 USD) in an expensive neighborhood or $59,998 JMD ($469 USD) in a more average neighborhood. These prices drop considerably with a reduction in the size of the dwelling.

Living in a furnished 480-square-foot studio apartment goes for about $82,673 JMD ($646 USD) in an expensive neighborhood or $42,091 JMD ($329 USD) in a more average area. Additional utilities and amenities increase these totals, especially considering that Jamaica’s national minimum wage increased last March to $6,200 JMD per 40-hour work week and $8,854 JMD per week for Industrial Security Guards.

Education

Primary school education in Jamaica is mandatory and free, although other schooling materials do add to the cost of living in Jamaica. Each September, a parent can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $400 USD per child at the elementary-school level for books, uniforms and mandatory auxiliary fees. These fees allow schools to continue operating and making improvements. A child can be turned away if these charges are left unpaid.

Retirement

If one is looking to retire in Jamaica, there are many factors to consider. These factors include housing, food, utilities, transportation and healthcare. Some services and appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers are uncommon due to import costs and there is not enough power to run them. In that same vein, a backup generator is a recommended investment.

Public transportation in Jamaica is not known to be the most punctual or comfortable. To get around this, having a car of one’s own is also recommended.

As for healthcare, the island’s clinics and hospitals provide their services for free, but they are also frequently described as unreliable. Kingston and Montego Bay are home to the best facilities on the island, so living there and taking out a proper health insurance policy covers quite a few bases.

Overall, Investopedia concluded that, given the cost of living in Jamaica, one could retire comfortably with a savings of $200,000 USD (approximately $25,668,730 JMD).

For those living on the island, the cost of life in Jamaica seems to be somewhat of a struggle to maintain, especially if many obligations need attention (such as children). However, that is not to say it is impossible. Perhaps if the minimum wage increases again like it did last year it will be easier for people to meet their needs.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr

blackberry

In Nigeria and South Africa, Blackberry has launched its latest smartphone, the Blackberry Leap. According to the company, this smartphone offers more than a day’s battery life, even with heavy use.

This latest version of the phone has switched out its old keyboard to feature a new touchscreen, much like the Apple iPhone. The new touchscreen keyboard features error correction and multilingual support.

Many may question why a consumer would buy this phone when there are much more popular phones like iPhone, Android and Samsung.

The Blackberry, jokingly referred to as the “Crackberry,” was once the must-have device for executives. It was the first smartphone that allowed easy and constant access to email and the Internet. The easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard allowed executives to respond to emails without being tied to a computer.

But with the emergence of the Apple iPhone, it quickly lost its dominance as the number one smartphone in the market.

Would you buy an unpopular smartphone? The answer from consumers in Africa is… yes.

Over the past four years, the Blackberry Curve has been the most popular smartphone in South Africa. A recent survey conducted by Vodacom in South Africa found that Blackberries make up 23 percent of the smartphone market. In Nigeria, Blackberries make up 40 percent of the smartphone market.

But why have Blackberry phones become so popular in African countries?

The first reason is that Blackberries are a status symbol; they were once the phones used by top executives. People strive to achieve the same success associated with the phones.

Additionally, an attractive feature of this phone is its low-cost data bundles. In fact, Users can send messages for free using the Blackberry Messenger (BBM). This makes the phones well-suited for less capable mobile networks.

And lastly, Blackberries are able to stay updated without the purchase of a new smartphone. In developing countries, phones are upgraded less frequently. Before the introduction of the Blackberry Leap, the most up-to-date Blackberry in South Africa was 3 years old.

There is still room for growth for Blackberry in African countries. In a poll conducted by GeoPoll, 17 percent of people reported that they would buy a Blackberry as their next phone.

It is predicted to keep its number one spot in Africa as the most popular smartphone brand partly because of its popularity with students.

The Blackberry brand has transitioned from being known as the phone for high power executives to the most popular, affordable phone used in developing countries. Of course, affordability is an important aspect when purchasing a smartphone. Blackberry has allowed consumers in developing countries to afford a smartphone without sacrificing technology, mobile network service or various communication abilities.

– Kerri Szulak

Sources: Inside Blackberry, IT News Africa, The Conversation
Photo: TechLoy