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I'm looking to move to another country. It's difficult to know if a job pays well enough for me to maintain the same standard of living I currently have.

Is there an easy way to compare the Cost of Living in different countries to determine where I'll get the most for each job offer?

  • This could be asked for specific countries, but resources applying to multiple countries would be more helpful. – Andrew Lott Mar 12 '14 at 23:07
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    I think this is a completely valid question, and is better left country-agnostic, as it might show what points you have to check when moving you wouldn't usually think about. – SztupY Mar 12 '14 at 23:13
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    As it's written, it's what is so affectionately called a "list question." There are so many country-country pairs (at least 37830, if you don't count distinct regions within countries, or non-recongized countries), that an exhaustive list of how to compare COL between countries is prohibitively long. – Flimzy Mar 12 '14 at 23:24
  • @Flimzy: this question isn't about generating a country-country pair list of COLs. It's about how to calculate the COL for any country, which you can then compare yourself. – SztupY Mar 12 '14 at 23:36
  • @SztupY: How to calculate that requires source material... at least one reliable source per country. That's still a list question. – Flimzy Mar 12 '14 at 23:37
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Numbeo's comparison site is usually useful, and it already shows a lot of aspects you have to consider when moving between countries. Here is an example comparing Budapest, Hungary with London, UK.

It doesn't check everything though, as there might be huge gaps between what is offered by a government in one country for free, that will cost you a lot of money in another. Good example is when comparing most EU countries with the USA, as while taxes are lower, and pays are somewhat higher in the USA, you have to take a lot of extra, long-term expenses into account (like health care)

So you have to check two things: the basic, more visible expenses and the long-term, not so visible expenses. You also have to take the taxing into consideration, as you'll only have your take-home-pay to pay for these.

The basic expenses you have to check:

  • rent
  • utilities
  • groceries
  • going out
  • car/travel costs
  • clothing

You also have to think about long-term expenses, like:

  • Health insurance / health related costs
  • Schooling / tuition costs (not only for you but also for your children)
  • Pension
  • The thing about that site is that it makes a lot of assumptions about your lifestyle which you can't customize. For example, when you want to enter some details for your city, it asks you a lot about public transport and gasoline prices. But - when you do a cost comparison, it wont ask you "Do you travel mostly by public transport or by car?" And it definitely doesn't consider the possibility of you traveling by bike. Also - do I live in an upscale area or a more popular, less central neighborhood. etc. – einpoklum Feb 11 '18 at 10:59
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SztupY's answer is excellent, but on slightly lighter note I'll point out that there's the Big Mac Index (that's from Wikipedia, here's the Economist page but you may need a subscription for to really drill down into the details) if you want to get a quick and dirty idea of comparative prices in different countries.

Use at your own risk, don't necessarily take this too seriously.

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