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 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 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

It is not uncommon for people to spend a lot of money on their appearance: make-up, monthly haircuts, manicures and pedicures, and sometimes extremes such as cosmetic surgery. Feeling well groomed in a world where appearance is frequently judged gives us a boost of confidence.

The most recent trend is teeth whitening, which comes in many forms. Celebrities constantly flaunt their pearly whites and it is no surprise that people are willing to spend extra money on products that promise them flawless, blinding white teeth. But is the cost really worth it when the same money could be better spent on causes that make a global difference?

The popular cosmetic service varies from whitening strips to whitening toothpastes to receiving professional bleaching at a dentist’s office.

Here is a cost comparison looking at how money spent on whitening products could provide mosquito nets for children fighting against the risk of malaria.

Crest Whitestrips, one of the most popular brands, range in price from $21 to $65 depending on the number of strips and the length of time one is supposed to wear the strips for. The most common version is the $30 pack, which can last people at least two months. After a year an individual can spend about $180 on whitening strips. The product claims it can whiten teeth just as effectively as a dentist’s professional whitening.

Lately most brands that carry average toothpaste and mouthwash also carry versions of those toothpastes and mouthwashes in whitening versions, ranging from Colgate and Crest to Sensodyne. These toothpastes and mouthwashes, although less costly than whitestrips or professional whitening, do usually cost more than the average product. They range from $5 to about $20 per item and do not necessarily produce the desired result. Depending on how much you pay and when you replace your toothpaste or mouthwash, the average person brushing twice daily can spend upwards of $30 to $120 dollars annually.

There are two versions of professional teeth whitening: Custom Bleaching Trays and Laser Teeth Whitening. Teeth Whitening Trays can cost anywhere between $150 to $1,500 per treatment, and Laser Teeth Whitening can cost a very expensive $500 to $2,500 per session. These treatments can take many different sessions in order to get the desired results.

Project Mosquito Net is a non-profit whose mission is to raise enough money to provide “insecticide treated bed nets to children and pregnant mothers in Kenya to prevent malaria infections and deaths.” One child is estimated to die every 30 seconds from malaria.

A mosquito net only costs $5 each, meaning that the average cost of a whitening toothpaste could provide one child or a pregnant woman with a net that could save their lives. If ten people donated the cost of one Laser Teeth Whitening session 1,000 children would be protected against deadly malaria.

Theoretically if 10 people donated their annual spending on $30 Crest Whitestrips, 360 nets would be able to be provided to children in Kenya. This puts into perspective how many lives could be changed if just a few people decided to help others instead of treating themselves.

Next time you purchase a whitening toothpaste, a box of Crest Whitestrips, or an expensive laser treatment, think about helping a young child or a pregnant woman in Kenya by providing them with protection against disease. You just might save a life.

– Becka Felcon

Sources: Dentistry for Madison, Smile Sensation, NBC News, Project Mosquito Net
Photo: Healthy Palm