Lists

The Cheapest Cities To Live In The World In 2020

Last updated on July 2, 2020 by
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Every year, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey examines the prices of almost 200 goods and services to determine how cities fare against each other. From that, data scientists are able to provide a reliable comparison of costs and then create a list of 133 cities, ranking from the most expensive to the cheapest ones.

Economic instability and political unrest have an impact on cities moving up or down the list from one year to the next. This is, for example, the case of Damascus, heavily damaged by civil war and now suffering from serious goods shortages –which explains its position as the cheapest city of 2020.

Last year, Caracas was last on the list, but the Venezuelan capital has moved five position up on the list in 2020. This is because in 2019, Caracas’ inflation was 9586% but the number has gone down to 2296% this year. While those numbers are still insanely high, the reduction was enough to help Venezuela move a few positions up in the list.

2020’s cheapest cities to live in include:

1. Damascus, Syria
2. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
3. Almaty, Kazakhstan
4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
5. Karachi, Pakistan
6. Caracas, Venezuela
7. Lusaka, Zambia
8. Chennai, India
9. Bangalore, India
10. New Delhi, India

Let’s take a deeper look at each city.

Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $320 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $139 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $602 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $307 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $99

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $4.28

View more data about Damascus

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $260 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $152 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $568 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $302 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $241

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $4

View more data about Tashkent

Tashkent is the cheapest city for expatriates if you exclude civil-war damaged Damascus. The capital and largest city in the country, Tashkent has very affordable rents, cheap cost of living, and very affordable goods. Compared to NYC (which has an index of 100, to which other cities around the world are compared), Tashkent’s consumer prices are 72% lower, with rents a stunning 92% lower.

Tashkent’s average monthly net salary is just $241 USD, which explains why expats arriving here will see their dollars go very far.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $347 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $223 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $685 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $425 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $440

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $4.94

View more data about Almaty

Almaty is often named as one of the best cities to live in Kazakhstan – a pricey city by local standards but very cheap for foreigners. Over the past decade, the expat community in Almaty has grown considerably and is now an exciting destination with a lively nightlife and easy access to the mountains and great skiing in winter.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $250 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $197 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $486 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $359 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $520

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $5.67

View more data about Buenos Aires

Chic, European-like Buenos Aires has always been a favorite destination for expats. Never known for being particularly cheap, the city fell 48 places between 2019 and 2020 due to devaluation effects and political instability. This is especially obvious in areas like rental prices – you can now rent an apartment in the city center for as little as $300.

Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $128 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $83 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $281 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $174 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $209

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $1.80

View more data about Karachi

Karachi is extremely cheap, but also very poor. Petty crime is high, infrastructure is precarious and expats looking for the “high life” would have a hard time finding it here. Of all the cities in the list, Krachi is one of the least livable because of social and economic instability.

Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $362 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $292 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $660 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $600 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $433

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $11

View more data about Caracas

Lusaka, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia

Renting an apartment:
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment in city center: $175 USD
Average cost of 1 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $173 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment in city center: $679 USD
Average cost of 3 bedroom apartment outside of city center: $364 USD

Salary:
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax): $779

Food:
Average cost of meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $2.81

View more data about Caracas

The only African city on the list, Lusaka is technically a cheap city but expats might need to spend money on security to live there. This includes avoiding certain areas and paying higher rents to live in safer neighborhoods or gated communities. Healthcare is poor in Lusaka and expats might need to fly to South Africa if they need anything beyond very basic medical care.

Bangalore/Chennai/New Delhi

bangalore

Bangalore is Asia’s cheapest city this year, and is known as “the Silicon valley of India.” Although a great city for start-ups and shopaholics, it also has issues with pollution and water scarcity, according to RupeeTip. To live an affluent lifestyle here (your own apartment, dining out regularly) you need a salary of Rs 9.25 lakhs ($12,251 USD) per year. But you can live comfortably for as little as Rs 3.16 lakhs ($4,185 USD). India in general has issues with low wages and spending growth, which explains why three of their cities made it into the list.