Budget & Student Living Costs around the World

published: August 2014

Budget & Student Living Costs in 125 Cities around the World

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to see more of the world is to actually take yourself off and live somewhere. Not only will you get a more authentic experience and really get to know a city or country, you can also use it as a base for exploring a region.

Unless you are a student on an Erasmus program or have a lot of cash saved up you will probably need a job but finding work abroad is easier than you might think. Teaching English is a possibility pretty much anywhere and if you are a native speaker or even if you’re not (if you’re reading and understanding all of this in English then you should be fine) then you have a good shot at finding work. In some places you will need a TEFL qualification but you can get this in 4 weeks and can do it in a large number of destinations around the world.

You may have seen our budget travel table but it is important you realise that actually living somewhere is considerably cheaper than travelling there. Renting a room long-term should be cheaper than staying in a hostel. Eating and drinking is cheaper once you’ve got to know a city and know where the value is. You also won’t be forking out for long-distance bus or train tickets every few days.

Our budget is based on:

Student living costs around the world but you don’t have to be a student to live on a budget! Here is a guide to what we consider to be realistic on the figures below:

-renting a room in a shared 3/4 bedroom flat (including gas/water/wifi expenses) in a student area or reasonably cheap district but not one so dangerous where you will be risking your life on a daily basis.

-eating out perhaps a couple of times a week but primarily cooking at home in your flat.

-one big night out per week on average and a couple of other more casual evenings out.

-a bit of cash for entertainment each week (going to the cinema/gigs/museums etc).

-a bit of cash for other necessities (toiletries, toilet roll, cleaning stuff and things like that)

-a monthly travel pass on the cities transport network or the likely cost of travelling in the city most days in a month.

It works out as roughly that of a student budget or perhaps a little bit more in most cities. It should be useful for anyone wondering how much it costs to study abroad or curious about the living costs for Erasmus students in cities in Europe. For everyone else, it may help you decide where you can afford to live.

You can find out more precise info about how we calculated this table and how to more precisely work out how much YOU are likely to spend in any of these cities at the bottom of the page.

 


Student living costs around the world

(all figures are estimates and in Euros/month)

most expensive city in the world

Oslo, Norway – the most expensive city to live.

OSLO €1590
LONDON €1530
SINGAPORE €1410
NEW YORK €1350
HONG KONG €1313
SYDNEY €1305
SAN FRANCISCO €1290
BRISBANE €1268
STOCKHOLM €1230
PARIS €1223
COPENHAGEN €1215
MELBOURNE €1200
WELLINGTON €1170
AMSTERDAM €1148
TOKYO €1140
HELSINKI €1133
HONOLULU €1133
AUCKLAND €1125
DUBLIN €1125
BIRMINGHAM (England) €1088
TORONTO €1043
REYKJAVIK €1035
MUNICH €1020
VANCOUVER €998
FRANKFURT €990
TEL AVIV €990
LOS ANGELES €983
CHICAGO €983
PHILADELPHIA €975
ABU DHABI €960
BRUSSELS €953

brussels street

Brussels, Belgium – more expensive than 75% of the cities.

HAMBURG €953
MANCHESTER €953
OSAKA €953
RIO DE JANEIRO €945
SEOUL €945
ROME €938
MILAN €938
VIENNA €938
MIAMI €938
DOHA €938
MARSEILLE €930
DUBAI €923
GLASGOW €915
SAO PAULO €893
BEIRUT €893
MOSCOW €885
BERLIN €870
MONTREAL €863
SHANGHAI €863
MADRID €855
BARCELONA €840
LAGOS €840
NAPLES €833
HOUSTON €825
BAKU €773
ATHENS €773
BELO HORIZONTE €765
LISBON €750
SAINT PETERSBURG €735
PANAMA CITY €735
SAN JOSE (Costa Rica) €720
BEIJING €720

beijing street

Beijing, China – the median city but on the up.

BOGOTA €713
VALENCIA €713
MONTEVIDEO €713
ISTANBUL €713
SEVILLE €690
TAIPEI €675
KUALA LUMPUR €668
DAR ES SALAAM €660
SALVADOR (Brazil) €653
JOHANNESBURG €645
ACCRA €645
GUANGZHOU €645
TALLINN €638
WARSAW €638
SANTIAGO (Chile) €630
FORTALEZA €630
RIGA €623
ZAGREB €623
BRATISLAVA €608
MEXICO CITY €608
NAIROBI €608
MANILA €608
MEDELLIN €593
JAKARTA €593
BANGKOK €593
ANKARA €585
ALGIERS €578
GUATEMALA CITY €570
LIMA €570
KINGSTON €563
BUDAPEST €548

budapest street

Budapest, Hungary – cheaper than 75% of the cities.

CAPE TOWN €548
ADDIS ABABA €548
BELGRADE €540
CASABLANCA €540
DURBAN €540
BUENOS AIRES €533
PRAGUE €533
BUCHAREST €533
MARRAKECH €525
KRAKOW €525
GUADALAJARA (Mexico) €525
QUITO €510
TEHRAN €503
TBILISI €495
PHNOM PENH €488
SOFIA €480
HANOI €480
DHAKA €465
CAIRO €458
HO CHI MINH CITY €458
LA PAZ (Bolivia) €435
SAN PEDRO SULA €428
COLOMBO €420
CHIANG MAI €420
KATHMANDU €405
MUMBAI €390
DELHI €360
KIEV €345
CORDOBA (Argentina) €338
CHENNAI €323
KOLKATA €255

cheapest city in the world

Kolkata, India – the cheapest city to live.


How we calculated the estimated Cost of Living for each city

We started off with a strong idea of the cost of living in a couple of cities in which we have lived in the past couple of years. From there we used this excellent living costs comparison tool (based on the experiences of 1000’s of people around the world) to work out the percentage difference between those cities and others which we haven’t lived. From there we could calculate an estimate of the cost of living in each of these 125 world cities.

Obviously this isn’t an exact science but we hope you find the info useful.

You can convert Euros to your own currency here.

 


How to calculate YOUR likely monthly living costs in any city

Everyone has different spending habits so dig out your calculator and use this useful trick to calculate your probable expenditure across the world. First decide if you have lived in any of these cities long enough and recently enough to get an idea of how much you spent each month.

 

If you live or have lived in any of these cities fairly recently

1) Think about what your average monthly expenditure is or was.

2) Compare it to the figure we have quoted for that city.

3) Divide your actual monthly living costs by our estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

4) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

5) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.

Example

You lived in Hamburg and your average expenditure was only €800 and not the €953 we have.

800/953 = 0.84

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

0.84 x €593 = €498

Therefore you’re project monthly expenses in Bangkok would be €498.

 

If you haven’t lived in any of these cities recently

1) Use the comparison tool to compare the living costs in your current city (or one in which you have lived recently) to one on our list that you think might have similar living costs to yours (for the purpose of this tutorial we will choose Lisbon).

2) You will get a percentage difference between the costs in that city and Lisbon.

3) Convert that percentage into a decimal.

i.e. for positive differences +1% will be 1.01, +10% will be 1.1, +25% will be 1.25

for negative differences -1% will be 0.99, -10%will be 0.9, -25% will be 0.75.

4) Using your decimal see where your city would rank in our scale.

Estimated costs in Lisbon x Your decimal = Estimated cost of living in your city.

5) Now decide what your actual average monthly living expenses are/were in the city you chose.

6) Compare it to the figure you calculated in step 3.

7) Divide your actual monthly living costs by the estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

8) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

9) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.

Example

You are from Leeds but Leeds isn’t featured in our list however it is close to Manchester and probably has a similar cost of living.

The comparison tool says that Leeds is 1% more expensive than Manchester.

+1% gives us a decimal of 1.01 and our estimated costs in Manchester are 953 Euros.

953 x 1.01 = 963 so imagine Leeds is now in our table at 963 Euros per month.

However in your experience you actually spend 1100 Euros per month in Leeds.

actual living costs/estimated living costs is 1100/963 = 1.14.

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

1.14 x 593 = €676

So in Bangkok your estimated living costs would be €676.

 


If your brain has just exploded we apologise sincerely.