Tag Archives: expats

The price of Europe

The Euro is in a free-fall vs the US dollar, sparking much debate about the macro-economical consequences. And of course about how cheap it is for (American) tourists to visit Europe. How expensive is Europe really? MoveHub, a website dedicated to “help you make an informed decision about wherever you want to move” has recently published a handy infographic showing the of costs of living around the world, compared to the cost of living in New York used as a 100% benchmark. Since I’m only concerned with Europe here, I took the liberty to crop that part out:

Relative cost of living in Europe (from www.MoveHub.com)

Relative cost of living in Europe (from http://www.MoveHub.com)

Compared to the cost of living in the US (based on the same infographic), there are several types of countries in Europe:

  1. Bloody expensive – Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Switzerland
  2. Quite expensive – UK, Ireland and Luxembourg
  3. Just expensive – Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy
  4. “Average” – Germany, Austria and Cyprus
  5. Slightly cheaper – Russia, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain and Greece
  6. Rather cheap – Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Portugal, Croatia, Slovakia and Azerbaijan
  7. Really cheap – Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Armenia and Turkey
  8. A total sell-out – Moldova, Macedonia and Georgia

It is immediately obvious that the general trend is for countries to be cheaper towards the South-East of Europe. But that’s nothing new. The interesting part is in what this map does not show. And its quite a lot.

First of all, the numbers come from Numbeo, which is a collaborative database. This means that the prices are provided by individuals and are not verified. But with hundreds of thousands of users providing millions of statistics, I’d say it is as reliable as it gets.

Secondly, a map of the local purchasing power index is much more useful if you’re going to live in a country. Prices are high in Switzerland, but so are the salaries.

Thirdly, even if you are a visitor, the prices you are interested in may not be the ones that are taken into account when making this inforgraphic. After all, why would you as a visitor care about the price of a Volkswagen Golf or of a membership of a fitness club?

Finally, the biggest disadvantage in this map is that it presents averages per country. And the differences may be quite significant. For example, Berlin is about 20% cheaper than Munich.

And now the good news. One of the biggest expenses for both a visitor and a resident is in having a place to stay. And that’s where the differences tend to be highest! It is a rough indicator still, but if you look at the price per square meter to buy an apartment in Munich and notice it to be twice as high as in Berlin, be prepared for significantly higher hotel prices.

All-in-all I can say that this map is a very good match to my personal experiences around Europe, and I would seriously recommend using it as a start in your budget planning, whether you intend to move to a European country or just visiting.

What would you say? Does this map match your experiences and/or expectations? How about maps of your continent? Share your thoughts!


Filed under Europe, Travel, Work