World city surveys could confuse expats as to the real costs of living

Published:  4 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia
In this ever more expensive day and age, becoming an expat isn’t simply deciding on a location and relocating lock, stock, barrel and the family dog.

Awareness of the average cost of living in expat havens all over the world is easily found online, although any one page rarely coincides with the rest as regards estimates of weekly expenses. To make matters worse, most websites calculate the cost of living as including first world necessities, even if the destination is definitely third world at best. Most expats don’t have time to visit and sort out costings before the move, even if they’re aware enough of the country to know how to avoid unnecessary expenses.

One recently-published survey of the cost of living in a number of favourite destinations goes some way to differentiate living costs including food, clothing and household goods from expat luxuries as well as necessities such as rental charges and international schooling for expat children. According to the report, Buenos Aires is the cheapest world city, with basic expenses for a couple with two children at $1,125 a month. What’s referred to as ‘expat extras’, however, puts another $2,106 on the expense sheet. However, without the inclusion of rent as a basic expense rather than an ‘expat extra’, it’s hard to figure exactly how much you’d need to get by.

The same applies to Bangkok, rated as the second most inexpensive world city. Basic living expenses come out at $1,480 a month, with expat extras including rent at a further $1,963. Since the average two bedroomed house in a reasonable district rents at an average of $12000, there’s not much left for other expat extras. Santiago de Chile is the third suggestion, with basic living costs estimated at $1,232 and extras including rent at $2,728.

Australia is known to be an expensive country, with the report suggesting a basic expat living expenditure of £1,792 and extras costing $2,086. Again, similar reports suggest family-sized rentals in Sydney would take up most of the ‘extras’. Total monthly costs in Toronto would set you back by about $5,077 a month, with basic expenses at $1,443 and a good chunk of the remainder taken up by rent.

Unsurprisingly, Geneva is calculated as the most expensive expat destination, with a total monthly outlay of around $6,326, with basic expenses at $2,099 and average rents at just below $1,500. Perhaps the most affordable and certainly the most enjoyable way to approach expat life is to live as do the locals in your favoured destination.
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