Home Countries with the Highest and Lowest Cost of Living 2024

Countries with the Highest and Lowest Cost of Living 2024

Posted by on February 1st, 2024.

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As inflation continues to render products and services more expensive into 2024, many people are looking to save money where they can. For most of us, this might involve shopping at discount stores and cutting back on luxuries; more adventurous souls, however, might consider moving abroad somewhere the pennies go further.

Numbeo released an updated cost of living index in the second half of 2023, listing 140 countries by living costs. The top five for low living costs include Pakistan, Egypt, India, Nigeria and Libya; at the bottom are Bermuda, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and Iceland. This article will compare two of the most affordable countries with two of the most expensive, balancing the pros and cons of the expat lifestyle in each.


The seventh-largest country in the world, it’s no surprise that India offers diverse career opportunities, a wealth of culture and art, varied landscapes and natural wonders as well as an incredible social scene.

The cost of living in India is comparably low due to its geographical placement in the ‘Global South’ – yet the country has a rapidly developing economy, hence the variety of jobs available. Moreover, employees paid in a Western currency could enjoy a favourable exchange rate, allowing them to live very comfortably.

As of January 2024, Numbeo estimates the average living cost for a family of four in India to be £942.10 excluding rent; or £274.40 for a single person. This equates to a sum approximately 65% lower than in the UK.

Of course, the low cost of living in India is a definite perk for those considering moving abroad; there are a few downsides to living in India, however, that budding expats ought to be aware of.

According to InterNations’ 2023 expat insider report, foreigners living in India may find the country somewhat chaotic, with disorganised bureaucratic systems contributing towards a perceived low quality of life. Out of 53 destinations in the report, India comes in thirty-sixth place overall, with poor air quality and sensory overwhelm weighing on expats judgements.


Worlds away from the gleaming glass metropoles of London, New York and Tokyo, cities in Egypt offer a lifestyle rich in culture, beauty and history with stunning architecture, warm climates and world-renowned monuments all part of their appeal. The country welcomes entrepreneurs, teachers, digital nomads and NGO employees, catering to the needs of approximately 554,000 expats.

Numbeo calculates the cost of living in Egypt as 60.2% lower than in the UK, with rent in particular being almost 90% lower. Monthly expenses for a family of four are estimated around £1,100; for a single person, living costs equate to around £308. The cost of eating out, groceries and transportation are notably lower than in many Western countries.

Balancing the bonus of affordable living, however, has a number of drawbacks. The country’s political situation is less stable than that of other countries, and the social culture in Egypt may be considered less progressive than in the UK or the US.

Moreover, existing expats express dissatisfaction with public healthcare, while roads can be dangerous and poorly regulated.


According to Numbeo’s latest index, Switzerland is the second-most expensive place to live in the world, with the cost of living for a family of four reaching an eye-watering £5,137. An individual could spend £1,402 on monthly expenses – £1,128 more than if they were living in India.

However, the quality of life goes some way to justify the price tag – Switzerland scored eighth out of 53 countries in the 2023 Expat Insider report, with expats viewing the country as clean, safe and stable.

In other areas, experiences of life in Switzerland are mixed. Numbeo reports a high purchasing power, as well as positive rankings for safety and healthcare; but the property price to income ratio in the country is merely ‘moderate’.

The biggest complaint of expats in Switzerland is a poor social life. For ‘ease of settling in’, Switzerland ranks forty-seventh out of 56 countries: expats find the local population unfriendly, with more than half finding it hard to make local friends.


Coming in just behind Switzerland in fifth place, it costs approximately 34% more than the UK to live in Iceland. The country ranks above all of the other Nordic countries.

In terms of quality of life, Iceland has a lot to offer. The country’s Human Development Index score is consistently high year-on-year: in 2007-2008, it came in first place. Boosting its performance are a high literacy rate, life expectancy and even GDP per capita.

However, the cost of living comfortably – in a beautiful country with a high tolerance for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, all religions and creeds – is its main drawback. The cost of living for a family of four in Iceland is approximately £3,735; or £1,010 for an individual.

Other cons to living in Iceland include sticky immigration policies, mediocre cuisine and long working hours. A 2020 article on living in Iceland reported that men work on average a stupendous 47 hours per week, while women generally work closer to 37.

The verdict: don’t jump to conclusions

It’s predictable enough that the countries with the highest cost of living have a better quality of life score, with expats consistently scoring them higher in annual surveys. Certainly, for those who can afford it, countries like Switzerland and Iceland offer fantastic prospects.

On the other hand, while less costly countries have their drawbacks, the security afforded by lower bills and living costs is not to be sniffed at.

To conclude, everyone’s ideal solution will be different depending on their circumstances. Perhaps a more expensive but less daunting environment can be managed with cutbacks in spending; or else the challenges posed by a cheaper country can be overcome with help from a paid advisor. Set aside time to look through your options before making a decision – you may be surprised by where your heart takes you.

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