The Cheapest Cities to Live in the World

by Kristina on August 1, 2012 · 8 comments

Good Morning Dinks.  Let me ask you a question, where do you live and why? I live in a city 7 hours away from the town where I grew up because I wanted to move away from home and I wanted to move to a big city.  The freedom, the career opportunities and the life experiences are a lot greater in a big metropolis  than they are in a small suburban town.  However, the cost of having that freedom and those life experiences are a lot more expensive in a big city.  Think about the last time that you went to a fast food restaurant and think about the last time  you went to the movies, how much did it cost? The odds are that your fast food meal and your movie ticket cost between $10 and $20 each.

 Where do you live?

Some of us left home and moved to a city far away to gain freedom and life experiences. Some of us moved for greater job opportunities, and some of us may have moved to a new city or a new country for the change in culture.  However, maybe you are the opposite of me. Maybe you moved from a big city to a small town because the cost of living is cheaper.  Maybe you moved out of the downtown area into the suburbs because the home prices are cheaper.

MSN recently published a list of the cheapest cities to live in the world.

Do you live in a cheap city?

Tirana, Albania – This is the capital of Albania and the cost of living is very cheap. People can see a movie for only $4.74 and get a cup of coffee for only $1.90. There are 421,000 who live in this town.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras – This is the capital city in Honduras and you can rent a luxury two bedroom apartment for only $700 per month.

Skopje, Macedonia – Even though this is the 8th cheapest city in the world, not everything in Skopje is a bargain.

Kolkata, India – Can you imagine paying only $2.72 for a fast food meal? Maybe you should move to Kolkata.  Everyday consumer goods are very cheap in Kolkata.

Tunis, Tunisia – If you live in Tunis you can rent a luxury two bedroom apartment for less than $500 per month. How much are you currently paying for rent?

La Paz, Bolivia – This city has the second largest population in the country.  A movie ticket costs only $3.62 in La Paz and a fast food meal is only $5.06.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – Not many people know the city of Bishkek, but many budget friendly travellers know exactly where it is located. The population of Bishkek is over 830,000 and people can rent a luxury two bedroom apartment for only $700 per month.

Managua, Nicaragua – This capital city is the cheapest in both North and South America. A movie ticket costs only $3.25 and you can buy a cup of copy for only $1.63.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Not everything is very cheap in this city. Although housing can be very expensive in Islamabad, daily necessities such as a cup of coffee are only $2.76 and a fast food meal is $4.19.

Karachi, Pakistan – Is the leading cheapest city in the world. It is the largest city in Pakistan and also the cheapest. A luxury two bedroom apartment can be rented for only $352 per month.

Photo by Kevin Dooley

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren @ LBee and the Money Tree August 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

I don’t think anyone would move to the Middle East right now, no matter how cheap it was. I would consider moving to Nicaragua.

2 William @ Drop Dead Money August 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

The list is nice, but it doesn’t account for the bigger money factor: income. How much can you earn in Skopje or Karachi? We know of a few people getting retirement houses in Costa Rica or Mexico, but their income is locked down as retirees. People who actually have to earn a living, how would they fare in those cities on the list?

The list also doesn’t account for the other two major reasons people live where they live: other people, and inertia (“this is where I always lived”).

My wife and I love driving, and we’ve seen most places in the USA. I remember one day we drove through a small town in the remote central section of Nevada. We looked at each other and asked: why do people live here? We’ve asked ourselves that question often.

We’ve seen wealthy places from Newport, RI to Newport Beach, CA. We’ve also seen the other side of the tracks: from the Mon Valley in the eighties (when it was a gigantic steel grave yard) and Appalachian coal mining country, to the ghost towns in Kansas when so many farms went bust. And of course so many places in between.

Why do people live where they live? When you ask people (as we are wont to do) the one thing you quickly learn: expense has very little to do with it.

When people move for money, it is for income, not expense. (Hence the opening statement.)

Other than people who have “moved here for a job,” “other people” is the number one reason for location. Most of us know someone who moved for a boy/girlfriend. Also, why do New York retirees move to the sweltering heat of Florida? Friends and family. (I still marvel that people move there without a gun held to their head, but there you go.)

We chose Denver, for many reasons. Expense, though, was not big on the list. To be sure, housing was more affordable than Southern California (where we moved from) but that wasn’t why we moved here. Now that housing is more affordable in SoCal, we probably won’t be moving back.

Can you imagine actually moving to Karachi, just because it costs less?

3 Carlos August 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I think the MSN article lacks a little more deep as said before, maybe a income, health care, transportation, etc

In Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, the most expensive non tourism dependent cities in Mexico, you can get a fast food meal or a good home made lunch for about $2.5usd
standard movie ticket $3.5 usd
gourmet coffee starting at $1.5 per cup
subway ticket $.03usd (yeap thats 3 cents)
2 room apt with 1 parking slot $450 usd

I will try to cross information about the median income in LATAM countries, and let you know

4 Squeezer @Personal Finance Success August 2, 2012 at 12:39 am

Yes but some of the cities listed are scary…islamabad, pakistan? I don’t want to get killed by a suicide bomber, so that is out. The cities listed in central and southern america? Most have extreme poverty, open garbage/sewer pits, health hazards, few doctors, etc. Most of the cities on the list are cheap for a reason!

5 Mexico--International Living August 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm

This list is deceptive, and it largely lists places we wouldn’t want to live in. There are plenty of other cities that are cheap and more pleasant. In Mexico, where I live, there are dozens of mid-sized cities–many of them state capitals–that offer culture, amenities, and a good quality of life. And you don’t need to be retired–if you’re telecommuting in the US or have an online business, you can often do that from abroad, from 1,000 miles or more away, almost as easily as you can do it from 100 miles away. And your fixed costs will definitely be lower.

6 Jenn August 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

I currently live in Bangkok, Thailand and find it very cheap. That being said, Bangkok can also burn a hole in your pocket if you opt for a luxurious lifestyle. You can choose to eat in expensive hotel restaurants for hundreds of dollars or eat on the street for $12, which includes beers and a multi-course meal. Shopping is the same; there are Malls with the top couture fashion designs, but there are also markets with local Thai designers selling their wares for super cheap. Real estate is similar and Thai real estate law allows foreigners to own condos and other real estate, with some restrictions. There are many big, fabulous cities in the world that can be cheap or very expensive depending on how you choose to live.

7 Roverlay January 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Jakarta.. 1.5cent usd for a cup of coffee, half US dollar is enough for breakfast (chicken curry)

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