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Expatistan: Cost of Living Index

We think it’s pretty safe to assume our readers tend to be dreamers who are curious about the world. Maybe you, too, have dreamt  of a day when you can leave your life in the US behind and immerse yourself for an extended period of time in another place. If you already have, lucky you. Those of us who remain stateside and haven’t yet had the opportunity to make a long-term commitment to a new home abroad may not only have a lack of opportunity, but a little anxiety about moving to a foreign country. The first requirement you’ll probably need to tackle is a job. And while we can’t help you with that, figuring out how much you could live on is something we can help with (or at least show you to a website that can).

We came across Expatistan by accident and it was eye-opening. It’s easy to navigate and gives you the real information you need to estimate how much you need to make to live somewhere new. You can do a cost of living search that gives you data on what staples cost at the grocery store — e.g. milk, eggs, tomatoes, cheese, wine and bread. The cost of living section also covers rent, broken down by size and location, and they even have a line item for utilities.


They also have categories like transportation (e.g. gas, monthly rail pass and taxi), personal care (e.g. medicine and toilet paper), and entertainment (e.g. movie tickets, dinner out, cup of coffee, gym membership). The costs are adjusted based on the current exchange rate and new input from site contributors.


You can also do a cost comparison by inputting the names of two cities. We decided to try two big cities, Tokyo and New York City, and the result was rather shocking. The data points are clear: Tokyo (left) is cheaper than NYC, 17% cheaper. The common thought for most of us has always been Tokyo is super expensive to live in, and yet it’s cheaper than a place a few hours drive from our current abode.

The chart also breaks down the categories like food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care and entertainment and tells you the cost difference for each.


Sample Citation The chart also tells you how many people have submitted data and how consistent the data is and how many data points the system uses, to give you a little more faith in the numbers.


The site apparently makes it money by selling personalized Salary Conversion Reports they calculate based on your planned income, giving you a detailed report on how much of your money you can expect to see going out the door and for what.

We loved playing with this tool as we think of planning an escape… we aren’t ready yet but we keep dreaming. And maybe this will help your dreams become reality, too.


About No Kids, Will Travel

In the eyes of their friends and family, Amanda and Zeke are a young jet setting couple without any real responsibility. In real life, the stress of work and raising a kitten push them to flee reality at every opportunity. The "lack of obligation" gives them the chance to explore the world.

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