Monthly Wrap: Which countries have the highest and lowest cost of living in 2023?

Currencies Direct January 27th 2023 - 4 minute read

With most of the world currently embroiled in a cost-of-living crisis, some countries are faring worse than others. Food prices have been the biggest driver of living costs across the world, thanks to the Ukraine invasion and the continued fallout from the Covid pandemic.

Numbeo’s 2023 cost of living index lay’s out how living costs varies across the world. The cost-of-living index takes New York City as a base point and compares all other countries relatively. Each index of measurement for New York City would be 100(%). If another city ranks 120, that means on average, the rent is 20% more expensive than New York City.

This month we will be looking at how the cost of living compares across each continent.


Ranking as the continent with the lowest cost of living, Africa also includes five countries that rank the lowest in terms of local purchasing power. This metric shows relative purchasing power within that country. Ivory Coast ranks the third worst in the world with a score of 7.8, meaning inhabitants of that city can afford to buy on average 92.2% less goods than New York City.

Highest – Senegal

Excluding rental costs, Senegal ranks the highest in Africa and 65th in the world due to the highest restaurant costs and relatively low local purchasing power.

Lowest – Egypt

Boasting the lowest rental prices in Africa, Egypt also enjoys relatively low living costs whilst still enjoying average local purchasing power.


Spanning North, Central, and South America, the cost of living index varies wildly as the American continent holds several of the most expensive countries to live in, including Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Barbados. On the other end of the spectrum, Colombia ranks the fourth lowest in the world.

Highest – Bermuda

Bermuda holds the unenviable title of most expensive country in the world, with the cost of living index (excluding rent) costing 141.8% more than New York City. Making matters worse is that local purchasing power ranks 33rd in the world. Across nearly all metrics, Bermuda tops as one of the most expensive countries to live in.

Lowest – Colombia

The cheapest rent in the Americas, Colombia also boasts the lowest restaurant prices. The South American country also maintains average local purchasing power at 31.1, making Colombia one of the more desirable countries to live in.


The diversity of Europe sees a wild fluctuation of cost of living indices as the war in Ukraine weighed heavily on food prices and energy in 2022. Despite this, Europe still occupies five of the top 10 countries in the world for highest cost of living. Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Jersey, and Denmark all rank high for cost of living but only Switzerland ranks in top 10 local purchasing power.

Highest – Switzerland

Holding onto top spot for highest cost of living in Europe since 2014, Switzerland claims top spot for almost all categories. Only local purchasing power drops to third spot after Isle of Man and Luxembourg.

Lowest – Ukraine

Despite the ongoing invasion, Ukraine has held the lowest cost of living in Europe for several years. All metrics rank lowest or top three lowest, whilst the local purchasing power remains relatively high at fifth.


Containing 41 countries, the cost of living index for Asia also contains the most diverse and varied cost of living index scores. From the dizzying heights of the living costs in Singapore, to the single digit metrics of local purchasing power in Syria, Asia represents the entire spectrum of living costs.

Highest – Singapore

Sitting in the top 20 of the world’s most expensive countries to live, Singapore ranks far ahead of the nearest Asian country, Israel. Rental, groceries, and restaurant costs all sit at least the top two most expensive countries in Asia, but local purchasing power lags far behind many countries in seventh.

Lowest – Pakistan

On the other end of the spectrum, Pakistan ranks as one of the cheapest countries to live with most indices hovering in the single digits. However, local purchasing power still languishes amongst the lowest in the world.


Highest – Australia

Australia ranks the 13th highest cost of living country in the world so unsurprisingly takes the top in Oceania. But as wages are some of the highest in the world, local purchasing power ranks Australia as 7th in the world.

Lowest – Fiji

Ranking 53rd cheapest in the world in cost of living, Fiji ranks far below both New Zealand and Australia as all indices rank almost half of both countries. However, local purchasing power remains relatively strong as Fiji is placed 42nd in the world.

Helping your money go further

If you are worried about how the cost-of-living in 2023 could impact your move abroad then you might want explore your currency options.

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