Life. It's expensive, isn't it? At least it is if you want a roof over your head, you want to eat, to maintain your health, to stay safe, get online, and maybe to move around a bit now and again. That, in a nutshell, is the "cost of living" and, yes, it is expensive.
But putting a price on the cost of living is not always straightforward. While New Yorkers will complain that apartment rents reach higher into the sky than the buildings themselves, employers tend to pay some of the highest salaries too. Cost of living is always relative to income, but how does a New Yorker's cost of living compare with, say, someone in Skopje, Macedonia, or Phuket, Thailand? Is it best to get dollars, denar or baht?
The website Numbeo, launched in 2009 by former software engineer Mladen Adamovic, calculates cost of living in 540 cities across the world. Drawing on data submitted by people actually living in these 115 countries, Numbeo gets as close as anyone has to comparing cost of living across the globe. Numbeo's Cost of Living Indices, which are continually updated and published periodically, sort cities to determine the most expensive (and the cheapest) places to live.
It uses specific and precise methodology, comparing everything from a night out at the movies to a three-bedroomed apartment.
The data is presented in comparison with the same cost in New York City (yes, New Yorkers are the center of the world), meaning that a "cost of living" of, say, 79 (as is the case in Italy) is 21 percent cheaper than it is in NYC. But–and this may surprise you–there are five countries whose cost of living is higher than New York. For instance, Switzerland's cost of living of 131 means it's 31 percent more expensive.
The U.S. as a whole isn't even in the top 20 of most expensive countries in the world. It comes in at No 25. That's where Newsweek's gallery of the most expensive countries in the world begins. Flick through to find out where you get even less bang for your buck.