27 Jun The Value of Money Around the World
Most of us have heard parents tell their teenage kids to get a summer job so they can “learn the value of a dollar”. But what exactly is the value of a dollar? As with most things in life, it’s complicated, because prices differ widely depending on the locale.
That fun three-month break you’ve been saving up for might turn into a mildly amusing fortnight if you end up taking it in London. On the other hand, it could land you a year-long sabbatical in Vietnam. The average Cambodian family gets by on $3 a day, but that won’t even get them half a cup of coffee in Oslo. A 40-minute massage in Manila costs a dollar; so does a pack of ketchup at a Swiss McDonald’s.
Even if you’re well-off, you should still take cost of living into consideration when deciding where to reside and travel. It could determine whether your children go to international school or to a public school (the quality of which varies drastically between jurisdictions). It could make or break your startup’s chances of staying afloat until profitability. It could be the difference between doing your own dishes and freeing up that time to use your more creative faculties.
For today’s mobile, always-on-line entrepreneurs and investors, the opportunity is there to earn in dollars or euros and spend in baht or rupees. That’s not to say that you have to live in the third world to enjoy low prices. Although we tend to think of the price of goods and services as a function of local income levels and vice versa, cost of living is influenced by a variety of factors, and average wages are not always the chief determinant. Some of the places you thought were cheap are actually expensive, and many advanced countries are astonishingly affordable.
A tasteful two-bedroom apartment in Berlin may be had for just a fifth of the price of comparable accommodation in Luanda. That’s right, the capital of sub-Saharan Africa’s Angola, not exactly a paragon of prosperity, is outrageously expensive and actually has the highest cost of living (for expats) in the world.
Take a look at price levels around the globe, and you’ll be surprised at what you find. With that in mind, we’ve made a few choice comparisons in the infographic below.