Everyone loves a vacation to an exotic locale, but have you ever thought of living there? Some of the world’s cheapest cities are also some of the most beautiful, serving up charming cafes, stunning scenery and top-notch technology along with budget-friendly living.
Click through to see the cheapest places in the world to live in.
50. Manila, Philippines
You can live out your tropical island dreams in the capital of the Philippines. Manila is one of the cheapest cities to live in the world, with rents averaging 80 percent cheaper than in the Big Apple.
49. Shenzhen, China
Linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland, Shenzhen is a shopper’s paradise, offering everything from custom clothing to faux designer handbags. Enjoy a cost of living 50 percent cheaper than in New York City and rents that are 75 percent cheaper.
48. St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is a perfect locale to settle down if you love cultural arts. From museums with vast collections of paintings and antiquities to venues for watching opera and ballet, there’s always something artsy to do. And, you’ll have lots of money left in the bank to do it. Rent is 80 percent cheaper than in NYC, and groceries are 62 percent less expensive.
More than 8.7 million people call the city of Baghdad home, making it the largest city in the nation. Known as the “Center of Learning,” Baghdad has many cultural attractions to visit in your off-time. And with a cost of living that is 54 percent cheaper overall than in New York City, you’ll be able to spend time enjoying them.
46. Tehran, Iran
Tehran perfectly positions its residents to ski at Tochal, hike stunning waterfalls in Jamshidieh Park or take in the city’s many cultural sites. It’s also one of the cheapest big cities to live in, with a rent index that’s more than 80 percent cheaper than in NYC.
45. Medellín, Colombia
Move to the “City of Eternal Spring” and you’ll reside in one of the cities with the cheapest cost of living in any season. Medellín enjoys an overall cost of living that’s 64 percent cheaper than NYC overall, meaning you won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.
Take a walk through architectural history stretching back to the 6th century when you live in Istanbul. One thing you won’t have to stretch is your budget. Groceries are 61 percent cheaper than in New York City, and rent is 86 percent less expensive.
43. Bogotá, Colombia
Spend your days meandering the picturesque cobblestone streets of Bogotá’s La Candelaria district and dancing nights away in the city’s vibrant clubs.
As one of the cheapest cities in the world to live, you’ll be able to get by on a modest wage. Rents are 86 percent cheaper than in NYC, and you can snip 68 percent off your grocery budget.
42. Asunción, Paraguay
Like many of the cheapest cities to live, old-world charm nestles side by side with modern high-rises. Presided over by the impressive López Palace, its seat of government, the city won’t cost a king’s ransom to live. Its overall cost of living is 64 percent lower than the Big Apple, with rents averaging 89 percent lower.
41. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It might be one of the cheapest cities to live in, but Kuala Lumpur is also one of the world’s top affordable warm-weather vacation destinations. Life in paradise costs only 54 percent as much as living in New York City, with rents averaging 82 percent less and groceries 53 percent cheaper.
40. Bucharest, Romania
From peasant crafts to an energetic nightlife, Bucharest offers its residents the best of old and new. Romania’s commerce center is one of the cheapest big cities to live in, with an overall cost of living that’s 66 percent cheaper than life in the Big Apple.
39. Guangzhou, China
Tucked on the banks of the Pearl River northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is home to world-class museums, skyscrapers and temples. Make it your home and enjoy paying 66 percent less for groceries and 79 percent less for rent.
38. Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, might be one of the cheapest cities in the world to live with a cost of living 57 percent cheaper than NYC, but it’s a cultural gold mine. Explore 2,000 years of history dating from the 13th century that tells the story of Greek, Ottoman, Roman and Soviet occupation through the years.
37. Baku, Azerbaijan
From its walled Old City to contemporary high-rises and beaches along the Caspian Sea, Baku rolls out lots of low-cost adventures for residents. But that’s not all you’ll enjoy on the cheap. Pay 90 percent lower rent and 72 percent less for groceries when you live in this city.
36. Skopje, Macedonia
Take a cable car to the top of Mount Vodno from Skopje and hike caves and monasteries, or explore the old-world city charm dating back centuries. The birthplace of Mother Teresa, Skopje makes it affordable to explore for years on end with rents 91 percent lower than you’d pay in New York City and food costs that are 69 percent cheaper.
35. Yerevan, Armenia
Stroll streets rich in grand Soviet-era architecture, or pore through ancient manuscripts at the Matenadaran Library — Yerevan is one of the cheapest cities to live in with lots to do. Save a bundle over a New York City lifestyle. Rents are 91 percent cheaper in Yerevan, and you’ll pay 72 percent less for groceries.
34. Kraków, Poland
Nearby Auschwitz is a major tourist draw to Kraków. But some residents prefer to sip coffee in hip cafes in Kazimierz, once the city’s old Jewish quarter, where you can grab a meal for less than $6. Or, enjoy a meal in your apartment with views of the city. Rents are 82 percent cheaper, and groceries are 63 percent less than in NYC.
33. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Get involved in the vibrant arts scene in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or just spend your off-time walking barefoot along a Canary Island beach. Surprisingly, this island paradise makes the list of cities with the cheapest cost of living thanks to rents that are 82 percent cheaper than New York City, a 94 percent purchasing power index and 55 percent lower grocery costs. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also considered one of the top vacation spots for retirees.
32. Izmir, Turkey
Rich in cultural and architectural sites, Izmir offers living costs that are among the most affordable in the world. In this city along the Aegean coast, rents average 91 percent cheaper than similarly sized units in New York City, and groceries are 63 percent less.
31. Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Save a lot of money living in Kaohsiung, which enjoys an overall cost of living 40 percent cheaper than in NYC. This major port and shopping paradise has a purchasing power index 27 percent greater than the Big Apple and rents that are 90 percent cheaper.
30. Dhaka, Bangladesh
The Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka not only makes a picturesque place to live — it’s also one of the cheapest cities in the world to live. Rents run 93 percent cheaper than in NYC.
29. Granada, Spain
Imagine you can wake up every day to breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range framed by medieval architecture. Granada’s famous residents included Spanish royals, but you won’t have to raid your treasury to live there. Rents are 85 percent less expensive than in New York City, and your monthly grocery budget will average 55 percent less as well.
28. Mexico City
Centered around the massive Plaza de la Constitución, Mexico City rolls out Aztec temples and artifacts of Spanish conquistadors. The city also has a thriving culinary scene, bohemian neighborhoods and designer boutiques.
Your monthly budget will go about 62 percent further in Mexico City, with rents averaging 82 percent lower than in NYC and groceries costing just 35 percent of what you’d pay in the Big Apple.
27. Ankara, Turkey
Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, isn’t just the governmental hub of the country — it’s a cultural center as well. Tucked in the Anatolia region in the heart of the country, Ankara is also one of the cheapest big cities to live in with a cost of living 59 percent cheaper than in New York City. Expect to pay just 8 percent of what you’d pay for rent living in the Big Apple.
26. Tunis, Tunisia
You might not expect a resort city tucked along the southern Mediterranean to be on a list of cities with the cheapest cost of living. Enjoy white sands, water sports galore and a cost of living that’s 70 percent less than in New York City when you make the move to Tunis, where the city’s rents are 93 percent cheaper.
25. Tbilisi, Georgia
The 4th-century citadel, Narikala, presides over the city of Tbilisi, one of the cheapest cities to live in the modern age. Ornate nouveau buildings and Soviet modernist architecture set the stage on the streets of the old city below, where you’ll find plenty of charming cafes, shops and museums to frequent.
The city’s low cost of living is less than 30 percent of living in NYC, including 89 percent cheaper rents and 75 percent less-expensive groceries.
24. Łódź, Poland
Pedestrian-friendly streets and soothing outdoor spaces make Łódź a great place to live, but you’ll enjoy a cost of living that’s 56 percent cheaper than life in the Big Apple. Rents are just 13 percent of what they are in NYC. Move into a one-bedroom apartment in the city center for a cost of about $368 per month.
23. Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Enjoy life in a tropical climate with all the benefits of a cosmopolitan commerce center when you make a move to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The city lies near forests filled with monkeys and within a short drive of Amboró National Park.
If that’s not enough to tempt you to live there, check out rents that are 86 percent lower than in New York City and a cost of living that’s 64 percent cheaper overall than in the Big Apple.
Set on the banks of the Nile River, Cairo rolls out easy access to pyramids and museums housing mummies and ancient artifacts. With its modern museums, busy bazaars and bustling after-dark coffeehouses, you might not expect Cairo to be one of the cheapest cities to live in the world. However, it enjoys an overall cost of living 74 percent cheaper than in NYC, including rents that are 95 percent less.
21. Islamabad, Pakistan
Although it’s the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad is only the country’s ninth-largest city. The modern city was built in the 1960s and has separate sections for residences, administration, green areas and industry, among others. Live in this unique metropolis for just 31 percent of what New York City life will pull from your budget, including rents that are 91 percent cheaper.
20. Kiev, Ukraine
Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, is known for its gold-domed churches, but you don’t need a lot of gold to live there. Both rent and groceries are uber-cheap compared with New York City. Expect to pay 78 percent less for groceries and 88 percent less for rent.
19. Alexandria, Egypt
Sandy beaches, old-world cafes and architecture dating to the 4th century B.C. are just three things that make Alexandria a desirable place to set up a residence. It’s also one of the cheapest cities to live in, with rents that are 96 percent lower than in NYC and an overall cost of living that’s just 24 percent of what you’d pay in the Big Apple.
18. Chengdu, China
A move to Chengdu tucks you amid history dating to the 4th century B.C. and ultramodern malls, high-rises and even a water park. Enjoy it all for a cost of living that is 61 percent cheaper than life in New York. Rents are 87 percent less in Chengdu, and groceries will save you an average of 62 percent over your NYC budget.
17. Kharkiv, Ukraine
Kharkiv is Ukraine’s center of technology, education, science and transport, making it one of the best places to live in the country. The city has programs that encourage small businesses, and a cost of living that’s 75 percent cheaper than New York City can keep startup costs down. Residential rent runs 92 percent less than in NYC and groceries about 81 percent less.
16. Pretoria, South Africa
There are few places on earth with a more dazzling display of spring florals than Pretoria in October and November. The city’s 70,000 or so jacaranda trees burst into dazzling purple blossoms, earning the place the nickname “Jacaranda City.”
Another great Pretoria sight is all the money you’ll have left in your budget. Pretoria’s rents are 84 percent cheaper than in NYC, and its overall cost of living is 47 percent lower.
15. Karachi, Pakistan
Karachi isn’t just one of the world’s most populated cities — it’s also an important financial center and cosmopolitan hub. Enjoy the finer things in life for less when you move to Karachi. Rents average 93 percent cheaper than in New York City, and the overall cost of living is 73 percent lower.
14. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Yes, you can enjoy living the beach life — with a cost of living that’s 67 percent cheaper than the Big Apple, you can spend your days wiggling your toes in the sun-soaked sands of Puerto Vallarta and experience the city’s vibrant nightlife. Settle down in an apartment that will cost you an average of 88 percent less than in New York City.
13. Durban, South Africa
Stroll the sands of the Golden Mile anytime you choose when you set up residence in Durban, or head out into the water to surf the waves. Street markets and food carts sell a culinary mélange of foods infused with Indian, African and colonial-era influences, and you can get a cheap meal for under $9. The overall cost of living is 54 percent lower than in NYC, with a purchasing power index that is just 4 percent below the Big Apple.
12. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun might be a popular spring break spot, but it’s also one of the cheapest cities to live in the world. Rent in Cancun is especially affordable, with rates running 90 percent cheaper than in NYC.
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11. Suzhou, China
From a distance, Suzhou looks like any modern city with towering high-rises and bustling freeways. A closer look reveals hidden treasures like charming homes hugging the very edge of waterways, classical gardens and towering pagodas. The city has rents that are 83 percent cheaper than in NYC and a cost of living 60 percent lower.
10. Katowice, Poland
You won’t find Katowice on any top tourism lists, but that’s exactly what makes this oft-overlooked city so attractive. From its Culture Zone with world-class museums to storybook streets and public facilities, it’s no wonder the city is reported to have a laid-back vibe. It also boasts low rents 88 percent cheaper than in NYC and an overall cost of living that’s 58 percent less expensive.
9. Lahore, Pakistan
Live the cosmopolitan lifestyle on the cheap when you set up your home base in Lahore. The city is one of the wealthiest in Pakistan, but you don’t need to be rich and famous to move there. The overall cost of living is 70 percent lower than in NYC. Rents average 93 percent cheaper than in the Big Apple, and food costs are 73 percent lower.
8. Jiddah, Saudi Arabia
Tucked along the shore of the Red Sea, the port city of Jiddah roles out resident experiences ranging from a stroll on the art-lined seaside promenade and trips to busy bazaars, where you can enjoy local purchasing power 13 percent higher than New York City. It’s one of the cheapest cities in the world to live, with rents averaging 86 percent lower.
7. Guadalajara, Mexico
Guadalajara is famous for its tequila and mariachi music as well as inspiring old-world architecture. Its inexpensive cost of living — 66 percent lower than NYC — includes rents that are 90 percent lower, leaving you plenty of money to savor the region’s ambiance.
6. Monterrey, Mexico
Nestled at the foot of dramatic towering mountains, the business and industrial center of Monterrey rolls out a lifestyle that includes both cosmopolitan and nature-oriented pursuits. Rents are 88 percent less expensive than in New York City, contributing to an overall cost of living that beats NYC by 62 percent.
5. Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg’s beginnings date to 19th-century gold mines in the area, but you won’t need a mother lode of the shiny stuff to put down roots in the sprawling metropolis. Tuck into an apartment for prices that run 78 percent cheaper than Big Apple rents, and enjoy purchasing power that exceeds NYC standards by 26 percent.
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4. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The primary financial hub and capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is known for its upscale shopping malls. The city is one of the cheapest cities in the world to live with a cost of living that is 52 percent less costly than in New York City. Even better, you’ll enjoy 29 percent greater purchasing power in Riyadh.
3. Hyderabad, India
A prime city for the technology industry, shopping and upscale restaurants, Hyderabad rolls out a cost of living 73 percent cheaper than New York City. It ranks third on GOBankingRates’ list of the cheapest cities to live due in part to its uber-cheap rents, which are 93 percent lower than in the Big Apple.
2. Bangalore, India
Known as India’s most livable city, Bangalore attracts 7 percent of all India’s expats to its boundaries, mostly in the form of young professionals. The now-residents cite outdoor beauty, a vibrant nightlife and fairly mild climate among the reasons they favor the city.
The cheap rent — 90 percent lower than in NYC — combined with local purchasing power equal to the Big Apple, are other reasons to move there.
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1. Pune, India
Pune tops GOBankingRates’ list of cheapest cities in the world to live with the best all-around low-cost livability score. Rent is 92 percent lower than in New York City, groceries cost 69 percent less, and local purchasing power is less than 1 percent lower than in NYC.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates sourced a list of the largest cities in the world by population from World Atlas. This list was then cross-referenced with Numbeo’s cost of living index by city. The following factors from Numbeo were analyzed to give each city a score and produce a final ranking: 1) Local purchasing power index: Measures the relative purchasing power of a typical salary in the country. A lower purchasing power buys fewer goods, while a higher purchasing power buys more; 2) Rent index: Includes typical home rental prices in the country; 3) Groceries index: Includes typical grocery prices in the country; and 4) Cost of living index: Includes costs of local goods and services, such as restaurants, transportation and utilities.
About the Author
Jodi O’Connell is a freelance wordsmith based in Sedona, Arizona, who writes about everything from vacation vagary and adventure sports to real estate and pets. She spent more than a decade in Arizona’s real estate industry advising first-time homebuyers and commercial investors before indulging her passion for the written word on a full-time basis. Her articles appear on websites as diverse as U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Hipmunk, Roots Rated, and Travelocity.