Yesterday I shared the 10 most expensive cities in the world. Today, we’ll explore the 10 least expensive cities in the world.
Each year The Economist publishes a list of the most and least expensive cities in the world. Figures are derived from the metrics I outline below. Here are the 10 cheapest cities in the world:
10. New Delhi, India
9. Bucharest, Romania
8. Chennai, India
7. Algiers, Algeria
6. Karachi, Pakistan
5. Bangalore, India
4. Lagos, Nigeria
3. Almaty, Kazakhstan
2. Caracas, Venezuela
1. Damascus, Syria
How helpful is the list when a city is cheap only in theory? I’m talking about your Venezuela. It’s true that the value of the Venezuelan bolívar has plummeted. But the country is also facing hyperinflation and a horrific supply shortage. Store shelves are often empty and citizens wait hours in line for their rations of food staples each month. Even so, cigarettes are nearly free and gasoline is free. You can’t get cheaper than that..
Damascus, meanwhile, is akin to West Berlin surrounded by East Germany. While the Syrian Civil War wages on, life is (fairly) normal. Markets are still bustling and people can walk safely in the streets. But the civil war has taken a dramatic toll on the Syrian Pound. While Syrians themselves might not feel it, Damascus is incredibly cheap right now.
In case you’re wondering how these numbers were compiled:
More than 50,000 individual prices are collected in each survey, conducted each March and September and published in June and December. Economist Intelligence Unit researchers survey a range of stores: supermarkets, mid-priced stores and higher-priced speciality outlets. Prices reflect costs for more than 160 items in each city. These are not recommended retail prices or manufacturers’ costs; they are what the paying customer is charged.
Prices gathered are then converted into a central currency (US dollars) using the prevailing exchange rate and weighted in order to achieve comparative indices. The cost-of-living index uses an identical set of weights that is internationally based and not geared towards the spending pattern of any specific nationality. Items are individually weighted across a range of categories, and a comparative index is produced using the relative difference by weighted item.
I find it hard to believe that Bucharest is cheaper than any city in India. Even so, the list does not have any real surprises. Just because Damascus and Caracas are the cheapest cities does not mean I’ll be heading to either one anytime soon for vacation…
Read the full report (.pdf).