Here Are The World’s 20 Most Expensive Countries To Call Home

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Dreaming of making a far-flung country your next home? Well, you might want to ensure that you can afford it first. CEOWORLD makes that task easier with its annual list of Earth’s costliest places to live. The publication uses the cost of living in New York City as their benchmark – the famously pricey metropolis gets a mark of 100, so anything designated with a higher number than that is extremely expensive. The ratings factor in costs such as rent, internet, food and travel, so it’s a well-rounded look. Does your dream destination make the list?

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20. The United States

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New York may be the benchmark for CEOWORLD, but it doesn’t speak for the entire United States. By the magazine’s estimations, the U.S. gets a score of 71.05 on the 100-point cost-of-living scale. This means that the country averages a much cheaper lifestyle than one that would be found in the Big Apple.

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Take rent, for example. The U.S. as a whole has a rent index of 40.32. On average, then, it’s 60 percent cheaper to lease a property outside of New York City. And in terms of purchasing power, the average American has about 10 percent more than someone living in the four boroughs. In other words, they can get more with their salaries.

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19. Seychelles

Travel roughly 10,000 miles away from the U.S. and you’ll find yourself in the Seychelles. The stunning island nation actually had zero human inhabitants until the 16th century, but Europeans eventually anchored there and found themselves in paradise. Nowadays, the once-untouched country made of 115 different isles is among the world’s most expensive places to live.

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The overall cost of living in the Seychelles is roughly 30 percent less than the benchmark city of New York. The island nation has much lower rent, but it’s only 15 percent cheaper to buy groceries there than in the Big Apple. Interestingly, Seychelles residents have very weak local purchasing power – they can only buy 22 percent of what the average New Yorker gets with their salary.

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18. Belgium

When you think of Belgium, one of the first things to come to mind is probably beer. But there’s more than beverage-based reasons to move to this European nation. As the headquarters of the European Union, the capital city of Brussels, in particular, has a huge international presence. Plenty of global companies have set up shop there, too.

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As such, there’s a great quality of life to be had in Belgium. Rent prices are only about a quarter of what you’d pay in New York City, and groceries cost approximately 60 percent of a Big Apple food run. Where Belgium gets pricey is in its restaurants and in its overall purchasing power. You see, an average salary affords you only 86 percent of what an NYC paycheck would bring home.

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17. New Zealand

A 2020 Gallup poll revealed New Zealand as the nation to which more individuals desired a move to than any other. Having said that, if everyone who dreamed of putting down roots there actually did so, the island nation would likely see its population of nearly 5 million people more than double to 11 million. That would be quite the rise!

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Yet perhaps the expenses involved would give wannabe migrants pause for thought. You see, if you add up the cost of living and rent, it’s only 35 percent cheaper than it would be in New York. And your purchasing power on the islands would be 7 percent less than in the city, too.

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16. Australia

Life in Australia will come as a breath of fresh air – quite literally. The country has a low population level compared to its massive size, which is comparable to that of the continental U.S. Meanwhile, the North American nation has roughly 280 million more inhabitants than the Land Down Under. So, you’d ultimately find yourself with a lot of space.

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Not so fast, though – Australia ranks four spots higher on the list than the U.S. The country has a low rent index at about 35 percent of New York’s prices. Groceries and fine dining are only 30 points lower than what you’d find in the Big Apple. Still, your Australian dollar will go a long way, with a local purchasing power that’s seven points stronger than NYC.

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15. Netherlands

A 2013 study conducted by UNICEF found that Dutch children ranked number one on the list of happiest kids on Earth. Their parents aren’t doing so bad, either, considering those in the Netherlands tend to put a bit less focus on their careers. If a work-life balance would do you good, then, you might be able to overlook the country’s relatively high costs.

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The Netherlands’ overall cost of living index is 73.75, which means it’s just over 26 percent cheaper than New York. Where the country tends to be most expensive is in its restaurants, which are less than 20 percent cheaper than the City That Never Sleeps. On top of that, your euro will only go 90 or so percent as far as the U.S. dollar would in NYC.

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14. France

French wine, French cheese, French pastries… do you need any further explanation as to why life is good in France? Much like the Netherlands, this country has a more even work-life balance than would be found elsewhere. Most shops and services shut down at 7 p.m. so that staffers can go home and enjoy time with their families.

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You’ll just have to make sure you can afford life in France before you make the leap overseas. As the 14th most expensive country on the list, you might be surprised to find out that rent’s only a quarter of what you’d pay in New York. The problem is that purchasing power in France is 20 percent less, which means you’d have to stretch your euros for pricey dinners out or high-priced groceries.

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13. Ireland

In the wake of the U.K.’s decision to depart from the European Union, more than 100 companies set their sights on a particular place to headquarter their overseas outpost. This was the Irish capital of Dublin. It seems that Ireland’s E.U. membership and English-speaking population make it a promising proposition for businesses.

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However, it’d be wise not to expect your money to go very far if you moved to the Emerald Isle. Much like in France, your euros will get you roughly 80 percent of what you could buy in New York with a dollar. Luckily, though, rent’s relatively low – outside of Dublin, at least. The capital, though, is reportedly among the priciest places for rent in Europe.

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12. Barbados

If you move to Barbados, you’re probably doing so for a life on the beautiful beaches amid perfect weather. In addition to that, though, the island country also boasts a stable economy and intends to become the smallest developed nation on Earth by the year 2025. And at first glance, the cost of living in Barbados seems low.

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In many ways, this assessment would be accurate. Rent is 80 percent cheaper here than in New York, while groceries are just 65 percent of what you’d pay there. The problem is that your cash only goes half as far as it would in the Big Apple. Overall, the cost of living index is 76.02, putting Barbados in 12th on the list.

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11. Hong Kong

There are plenty of pros to a life in Hong Kong. In 2018 the city’s population was recorded as nearly 7.5 million, meaning you’d be surrounded by a diverse and cultured crowd if you moved there. However, relocation websites warn that without a high-paying job, you could be chipping away at your savings for your initial months spent there.

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Hong Kong ranks 11th because of its overall cost of living index, which is 77.22 percent of New York’s. The indexes for rent and groceries hover around this number, too. But while a restaurant visit would cost approximately half of an NYC meal, your Hong Kong dollar goes only 65 percent as far as the American dollar in New York.

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10. South Korea

You can expect a ton of good to come from a life in South Korea. For one thing, the country has relatively few instances of crime. Plus, expats tend to find their Korean friends and colleagues to be super welcoming. But then, of course, comes the question of the cost of living.

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Rent in South Korea is only 23 percent of what you’d fork over in the Big Apple. But if you want to buy groceries? Expect to cough up around 91 percent of the typical NYC bill for food. This and other factors combined makes the overall cost of living in South Korea 78.18 in comparison to New York’s 100 points.

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9. Singapore

Just five years ago, Singapore topped at least one list that ranked the world’s costliest cities. However, it has slumped down to number nine as of 2020. That’s good news for those who want to live in a place known to have excellent healthcare, business opportunities, banking facilities, political stability, tax breaks, entertainment and everything else in between.

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Singapore’s overall cost of living index is at 81.1, and the purchasing power index – stuck at almost 89 – probably has a lot to do with that. The rest of the figures are relatively low, with rent costing 63 percent of a New York residence and grocery bills adding up to two-thirds of what they’d be in NYC.

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8. Israel

Brian Blum wrote about his family’s decision to leave Berkeley, California, in favor of Israel in a 2019 piece for The Jerusalem Post. He described how life in the Middle East gave “intrinsic meaning to life.” This, he claimed, was because, “Israel as a national project began before we were born.”

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To build a life like Bloom’s, though, you have to be prepared to pay for it. Israel ranks 8th overall, with its cost of living index at just over 81. Once again, rent, groceries and even dining out are relatively low-cost. The problem is the value of the shekel – it’ll only get you 78 percent as far as a U.S. dollar would in the Empire City.

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7. Luxembourg

Moving to Luxembourg will have you right in the middle of Europe, meaning you could explore the continent with ease. But life at home will be good, too. Luxembourg, after all, impresses its residents with lots of opportunity, a democratic system and, of course, a high level of happiness overall.

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On that note, it seems money can buy you happiness, if you can afford a life in Luxembourg. Your money will get you three percent further than it would if you lived in NYC. However, restaurants cost 90 percent of a New York bill, and the rent-plus-cost-of-living index is almost at 70 percent of what it’d be across the pond.

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6. Bahamas

One step onto a pristine Bahamian beach and you’ll understand why anyone would want to live here. According to the website Bahamas.com, the Caribbean country boasts the most crystal-clear seawater on Earth. What we can confirm as true, however, is that the place encompasses 700 different islands, as well as thousands of rocks and cays that dot a 100,000-square-mile patch of the Atlantic.

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All of this beauty comes at a price, though. The Bahamas’ cost of living index ranks sixth at 82.51. Rent prices are just over a third of what you’d pay in New York, but that’s the lowest figure on the board. Groceries and restaurant prices slide from 60 to 84 percent of what you’d fork over in NYC. But the real kicker is that money goes half as far here, making all of the above that much pricier.

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5. Denmark

People who travel to Denmark tend to notice something about the locals – they stroll around slowly. Those who note this aren’t necessarily making a complaint, but rather realizing that they should perhaps slow down, too. The Danish supposedly take their time because they like things to be peaceful. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live?

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Obtaining the Danish lifestyle will cost you, though. Overall, the city has a cost-of-living index that’s 83 percent of that in New York City. Interestingly, though, you will pay roughly the same on restaurant dining in both cities, and your money will have the same purchasing power, too. Denmark is slightly cheaper in the rent and groceries departments, though.

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4. Japan

Now that we’re getting to the top of the list, there’s no way around it – the cost of living in Japan is high. But residents and those who immigrate there are often willing to accept all of the expensive prices for the opportunities that the country has to offer. Many can boost their finances while living in Japan, as the country’s businesses tend to pay robust salaries.

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Japan’s cost-of-living index measures in a hair higher than Denmark at 83.35. Rent costs a quarter of what it would in New York, while your restaurant bill should be slashed in half in Japan. However, the yen just doesn’t go as far as the dollar – you’ll get 87 percent of what you would if you spent your salary in the Big Apple.

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3. Iceland

In the past, Iceland has been named the most peaceful nation on Earth, the best country for kids, and the globe’s cleanest place to live. Of course, as this list has taught you already, not all that glitters is gold. That’s to say, you will have to pay a hefty price to get all of the goodness that Iceland has to offer.

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From Japan to Iceland, we make a huge leap in the cost-of-living index. In the latter, you’ll find it to be 100.48. In other words, it’s more expensive overall to live here than in New York City. That’s partly to do with the fact that restaurants are around 13 percent more expensive, and also because money only has about 79 percent of the purchasing power that it would have in New York.

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2. Norway

Norway has banked billions of dollars to put toward its people’s pensions, thanks to the oil fields discovered just off the country’s coast. If that’s not incentive enough to live and work here, though, then think about all of the natural beauty that this Nordic nation has to offer. From fjords to freshwater to mountains, it’d be tough to tire of the country’s natural beauty.

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Life in Norway sounds ideal, but can you afford it? The table here reads much like the stats from Iceland. Rent’s much cheaper here than in New York, but that’s the only break you’d get. Dining in a restaurant would be ten percent more expensive, while the krone in Norway has only 88 percent of the purchasing power that a dollar holds in New York.

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1. Switzerland

The Swiss get paid well in comparison to many of their European neighbors – and even some of their overseas counterparts can’t compete with their high wages. Residents also enjoy a relatively low tax rate, which means more money ends up in their pockets. However, considering just how expensive it is to live here, they need every last franc they can get.

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Switzerland is leaps and bounds more expensive than New York, Norway or Iceland – it’s by far the world’s priciest country in which to live. The cost-of-living index is at a 122.4, making it a fifth more expensive than NYC. Food is a huge cost in the landlocked nation, whether you dine in or go out. Even with a currency that gets you approximately 20 percent more than a dollar does in New York, it’s still insanely pricey to make a home here.

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