Expat LifeMoney Know-How

How Much Does It Cost To Rent Or Buy A House In London, Paris, New York & 30+ Cities!

How Much Does It Cost To Rent/Buy A House In London, Paris, New York & 30+ Cities!

Moving to a foreign city, soaking in its culture, exploring its food scene, sacrificing some sleep to enjoy its buzzing nightlife – who doesn’t dream of living it up like an expat, right? 

Surprisingly, a great social or personal life is not the most important consideration for most people who want to move abroad. According to Expat Insider 2018, a report from expatriate network guide Internationsa majority of global expats move abroad for their career (or their partner’s). Other reasons for relocation include love and the aspiration for a better quality of life. The desire to have an adventure or try something new is lower down the aspiration list. 

Money can be a major motivating factor as well. In general, the report found that expat satisfaction with their finances was varied depending on where they lived. This means your rent plus living expenses can affect your satisfaction levels while living in a foreign city. 

The World’s ‘Best’ Cities 

There are plenty of indexes and comparative studies out there that rank cities from best to not so best based on many different criteria, including: 

  • Real estate prices (both rentals and purchases) 
  • Low cost of living index 
  • Culture and openness to expats 
  • Multiculturalism and population diversity 

Not all lists are made equal, of course, and there is always a lot of debate around which cities should be included and which ones shouldn’t. 

One such survey, the Time Out Index 2019 surveyed over 30,000 people and concluded that the 5 ‘best’ cities in the world (overall) are: 

  • New York City, USA
  • Melbourne, Australia 
  • Chicago, USA 
  • London, UK 
  • Los Angeles, USA 

The 5 cities at the bottom of the list are: 

  • Marseille, France 
  • Bangkok, Thailand 
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
  • Beijing, China 
  • Istanbul, Turkey 

The World’s ‘Best’ Countries & Cities For EXPATS 

The Expat Insider 2018 report by Internations surveyed 18,000+ expats living in 187 countries and rated these countries based on factors such as finance, housing, family life, ease of settling in, national economy, local cost of living, etc. 

The 10 most common countries of residence for expats are: 

  1. Germany 
  2. USA 
  3. Switzerland 
  4. UK 
  5. Spain 
  6. France 
  7. UAE 
  8. Netherlands 
  9. China 
  10. Italy 

However, in general, the 10 best countries and cities for expats are: 

Ranking  Best countries for expats  Best cities for expats 
1  Bahrain  Taipei, Taiwan 
2  Taiwan  Singapore 
3  Ecuador  Manama, Oman 
4  Mexico  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
5  Singapore  Bangkok, Thailand 
6  Portugal  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
7  Costa Rica  Aachen, Germany 
8  Spain  Prague, Czech Republic 
9  Colombia  Madrid, Spain 
10  Czech Republic  Muscat, Oman 

Cities With The ‘Cheapest’ Housing For Expats 

According to the Expat Insider 2018 report, the following cities offer affordable housing to expats (cheapest first): 

  1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
  2. Bangkok, Thailand 
  3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
  4. Houston, USA 
  5. Athens, Greece 
  6. Manama, Bahrain 
  7. Muscat, Oman 
  8. Montreal, Canada 
  9. Mexico City, Mexico 
  10. Taipei, Taiwan 
  11. Cape Town, South Africa 
  12. Budapest, Hungary 
  13. Kampala, Uganda 
  14. Johannesburg, South Africa 
  15. Tallinn, Estonia 

For these cities, rents and ‘buy’ prices are given in the table below*. All figures are in US Dollars ($). 

In general, homes in the central area of a city tend to be more expensive than homes away from the central area. 

*According to Numbeo, an online database that provides comparative information about different countries and cities 

City  Rent (1 bedroom apartment per month)  Buy (per square metre) 
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam  $285-$449  $1180-$2400 
Bangkok, Thailand  $330-$660  $2350-$5100 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  $310-$560  $1490-$2840 
Houston, USA  $900-$1345  $1092-$2089 
Athens, Greece  $340-$390  $1742-$1843 
Manama, Bahrain  $600-$875  $2060-$2925 
Muscat, Oman  $480-$685  $2010-$3323 
Montreal, Canada  $579-$853  $2479-$4011 
Mexico City, Mexico  $305-$515  $1360-$2313 
Taipei, Taiwan  $383-$565  $6120-$10,900 
Cape Town, South Africa  $498-$742  $1246-$2567 
Budapest, Hungary  $394-$526  $1948-$3117 
Kampala, Uganda  $130-$257  $2650 
Johannesburg, South Africa  $384-$454  $690-$950 
Tallinn, Estonia  $389-$571  $1920-$2840 

What About Other Cities That Are ‘Popular’ With Expats? 

Apart from the ‘best’ and ‘affordable housing’ cities listed in the Expat Insider 2018 report above, the below cities are also very popular with expats (in no particular order). Check out their housing prices* (rents and buy) and compare them with the previous table. You’ll get a good idea about housing affordability across the world. 

City  Rent (1 bedroom apartment per month)  Buy (per square metre) 
Berlin, Germany  $735-$990  $4400-$6350 
Buenos Aires, Argentina  $235-$310  $2200-$2840 
London, UK  $1540-$2190  $9400-$16,575 
Tokyo, Japan  $708-$1125  $5777-$10,895 
Sao Paulo, Brazil  $356-$509  $1849-$2809 
Geneva, Switzerland  $1587-$1971  $9364-$12934 
Seoul, South Korea  $453-$685  $6069-$12645 
Zurich, Switzerland  $1296-$1753  $8566-$13,361 
Istanbul, Turkey  $189-$315  $745-$1460 
Paris, France  $943-$1297  $8871-$12,060 
Edinburgh, Scotland  $757-$974  $3539-$5091 
San Francisco, USA  $2795-$3400  $9900-$12760 
New York, USA  $1995-$3108  $6307-$14,000 
Prague, Czech Republic  $593-$806  $3562-$5521 
Sydney, Australia  $1320-$1820  $6272-$10,014 
Melbourne, Australia  $1032-$1334  $5342-$6627 
Los Angeles, USA  $1654-$2156  $4907-$7386 
Vancouver, Canada  $1178-$1479  $6661-$8855 
Toronto, Canada  $1240-$1553  $6373-$7897 
Auckland, New Zealand  $966-$1190  $5437-$6608 

*According to Numbeo, an online database that provides comparative information about different countries and cities 

Before You Go 

Statistics, surveys and opinion polls are great. They give you a good starting point when you’re trying to make a big decision. On the other hand, thanks to the law of averages, that’s all they give you – an average picture that is not necessarily accurate from an individual perspective. 

So, if you are considering moving to another country to adopt the expat life, make sure you understand your own needs and aspirations first and research your options accordingly, and not the other way around. Do your research and make an informed choice that’s right for you.