Cheapest Place in the World to Live

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Consider the cost of living before planning a move.

If you're trying to stretch your paycheck as far as possible, you may be searching for the cheapest place in the world to live.

Factors to Consider

When looking for the cheapest place in the world to live, one must remember that Americans are already among the luckiest people in the world. Around the globe, more than one million people live in slum conditions. Eighty percent of the population subsists on less than $10 per day.

That being said, people looking for cheap places to live usually want a location that helps them maintain or increase their current standard of living. To determine the cheapest place to live, there are a number of factors that researchers consider. Some of the more obvious expenses often used to calculate cost-of-living estimates include:

  • Price to buy a home
  • Price to rent an apartment
  • Cost of a doctor's visit
  • Cost of a dental visit
  • Cost to buy a week's worth of groceries

Examples of some of the more obscure figures used in cost-of-living calculations include:

  • Cost of a haircut
  • Cost of a newspaper
  • Cost of a gallon of gasoline
  • Cost of a typical fast food meal
  • Cost to go see a movie in the theater
  • Cost of a new outfit

Cheapest States in the United States

David Savageau, author of The Places Rated Almanac, Retirement Places Rated, and World Retirement Places Rated reports that the following cities are among the cheapest places to live in the United States:

  • Alamogordo, New Mexico
  • Alpine-Big Bend, Texas
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Cedar Creek Lake, Texas
  • Lake of the Cherokees, Oklahoma
  • McAllen-Alamo, Texas
  • Natchitoches, Louisiana
  • Roswell, New Mexico
  • Silver City, New Mexico
  • Thomasville, Georgia

Going Abroad: Finding the Cheapest Place in the World to Live

What if you want to leave the United States? If you're looking for more of an adventure, here are some cities from around the world that were recognized in Mercer Consulting's 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living survey for their affordability:

  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Bangalore, India
  • Chennai, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Monterrey, Mexico
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Quito, Ecuador

Although many of these cities are quite beautiful, you will want to keep in mind that some of the cheapest places in the world to live also struggle with persistent poverty and higher than average crime rates. If you're planning on making a move to lower your cost of living, you'll want to consider:

  • Personal safety concerns
  • Local job market issues, unless you're retired and living off investments
  • Language barriers

When considering the possibility of relocating, don't forget that the expenses associated with an international move are quite large. You'll need to come up with a plan to pay for a plane ticket, shipment of your belongings, and the costs associated with getting settled in your new home.

As you might expect, there is a great deal of paperwork that must be completed before an international move. You'll need to apply for a passport. You'll also need a work visa if you plan to seek employment in your new country. Depending upon where you want to live, you may even need proof of certain vaccinations or the ability to meet specific residency requirements.

Places to Avoid: The Most Expensive Cities in the World

When searching for the cheapest place in the world to live, Mercer Consulting's 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living surveys recommends that you stay far away from the following cities:

  • Tokyo
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Beijing, China
  • Shanghai, China
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Caracas, Venezuela
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Paris
  • Milan, Italy
  • Copenhagen
  • Zurich
  • Geneva
  • Moscow

To illustrate the huge difference in the cost of living between various cities, it's worth pointing out that it will cost you nearly three times as much to maintain the same standard of living in Tokyo that you could enjoy in Johannesburg. The most expensive places in the world to live are popular tourist destinations, while the cheapest cities tend to be "undiscovered" gems.

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