The FINANCIAL — With a 32.33 cost of living index, Georgian capital Tbilisi is the sixth cheapest (or tenth most expensive) city out of the fifteen post-Soviet states. Tallinn, Estonia, has been rated 51.80, placing the city at the top of the most expensive cities. Chisinau, Moldova, has been rated 27.22 and is thus the cheapest.
The FINANCIAL has compared the indices of cost of living in the capitals of fifteen post-Soviet states. The data has been provided by online database numbeo.com. The indices are relative to New York City (NYC). Which means that for New York City, each index should be 100%. The index is a relative indicator of consumer goods price, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. The Cost of Living Index doesn’t include accommodation expenses such as rent or mortgage.
Cost of living in Tbilisi is 67.99% lower than in New York. The NUMBEO estimator (with default settings) estimates monthly expenses for a single person at GEL 921.91 (or USD 393) and for a four person family at GEL 3,296.43 (USD 1,405) without rent.
According to NUMBEO’s 2016 cost of living data, Tallinn, Estonia, tops the list of most expensive cities, pushing Riga, Latvia (48.87) to second position. Vilnius, Lithuania (47.63) and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (41.70) are in third and fourth positions, respectively, whereas Moscow, RF (40.84) is in fifth. Tashkent, Uzbekistan (40.16) ranked sixth. It is followed by Minsk, Belarus (34.45); Yerevan, Armenia (34.39); Bishkek, Kirgizstan (33.03); Tbilisi, Georgia (32.33); Dushanbe, Tajikistan (31.92); Baku, Azerbaijan (31.29); Astana, Kazakhstan (31.12); Kiev, Ukraine (28.53); and, Chisinau, Moldova (27.22).
With an average GEL 755.56 (or USD 322.22) rent per month in the city centre and GEL 422.22 (or USD 180) outside the centre, Tbilisi has the second lowest rent index. The rent index in Tbilisi is 11.30. The cheapest is Chisinau ranked at 7.97. Price per rent in the centre of Chisinau is USD 227 there. With USD 325, Baku has ranked 11.75, making the city the third cheapest country for renters. It is followed by Yerevan – 11.88 (USD 371); Bishkek – 12.02 (USD 382); Tashkent – 13.02; Ukraine – 13.17 (USD 392); Minsk – 13.28 (USD 401); Riga – 13.29 (EUR 351); Vilnius – 15.16 (EUR 426); Astana – 16.13; Tallinn – 16.50 (EUR 460); Dushanbe – 16.72; and, Ashgabat – 19.20. With USD 824.74 per one-bedroom apartment in the city centre and USD 492.17 outside the centre, Moscow is the most expensive city for renters, ranking 27.68.
Chisinau still leads the list of cheapest post-Soviet cities also in terms of the grocery index. Moldova’s capital has ranked 20.72. It is followed by Ukraine – 21.60; Astana – 23.56; Baku – 25.63; Yerevan – 26.14; Tbilisi – 26.42; Minsk – 27.65; Bishkek – 28.15; Dushanbe – 29.44; Moscow – 31.10; Tashkent – 34.95; Ashgabat – 35.61; Riga – 36.08; Vilnius – 37.05; and, Tallinn – 37.78.
Average expenditure per meal for one guest at an inexpensive restaurant of Tbilisi will cost you GEL 15 (USD 6.4). A meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will reach on average GEL 45 (or USD 20). While having a McMeal at McDonald’s or equivalent combo meal a guest will be charged on average GEL 12 (or USD 5.12). Considering the listed prices Georgia is the seventh cheapest city by restaurant index, standing at 31.64. Dushanbe and Chisinau are the only cities that were ranked below 20 in the restaurant index. The restaurant index of Dushanbe stood at 19.11. It is the cheapest place for having a meal in a restaurant. Tajikistan’s capital is followed by Chisinau – 19.60; Ukraine – 23.34; Bishkek – 24.69; Tashkent – 28.76; Yerevan – 31.38; Tbilisi – 31.64; Astana – 32.30; Baku – 34.94; Minsk – 38.59; Vilnius – 41.91; Riga – 41.36; Moscow – 48.73; Ashgabat – 52.21; and, Tallinn – 53.78.
The balance of cost of living in cities is more or less equivalent to the purchasing power of locals. With a 32.22 index of local purchasing power Tbilisi is seventh out of fifteen post-Soviet cities. Dushanbe has the lowest grade measuring at 13.69. It is followed by Tashkent – 26.26; Chisinau – 29.41; Bishkek – 30.93; Kiev – 31.41; Yerevan – 31.63; Tbilisi – 32.22; Baku – 35.57; Minsk – 40.41; Astana – 45.36; Riga – 57.03; Vilnius – 58.72; Moscow – 60.70; Ashgabat – 66.29; and, Tallinn – 72.35.
According to Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Survey, Hong Kong tops the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, pushing Luanda, Angola, to second position. Zurich and Singapore remain in third and fourth positions, respectively, whereas Tokyo is in fifth, up six places from last year. Kinshasa, ranked sixth, appears for the first time in the top 10, moving up from thirteenth place.
Other cities appearing in the top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates are Shanghai (7), Geneva (8), N’Djamena (9), and Beijing (10). The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer’s survey, are: Windhoek (209); Cape Town (208); and, Bishkek (207).
Two European cities are among the top 10 list of most expensive cities. At number three in the global ranking, Zurich remains the most costly European city, followed by Geneva (8), down three spots from last year. The next European city in the ranking, Bern (13), is down four places from last year following the weakening of the Swiss franc against the US dollar.
Several cities across Europe remained relatively steady due to the stability of the Euro against the US Dollar. Paris (44), Milan (50), Vienna (54), and Rome (58) are relatively unchanged compared to last year, while Copenhagen (24) and St. Petersburg (152) stayed in the same place.
Other cities, including Oslo (59) and Moscow (67), plummeted twenty-one and seventeen places, respectively, as a result of local currencies losing significant value against the US Dollar. London (17) and Birmingham, UK (96) dropped five and sixteen places, respectively, while the German cities of Munich (77), Frankfurt (88), and Dusseldorf (107) climbed in the ranking.
“Although the value of the Euro has remained steady against the US Dollar, the Pound has fallen, largely due to Brexit fears,” explained Ellyn Karetnick, Head of International Mobility at Mercer. “But whilst currency fluctuations will always cause a major impact on costs, local conditions like high property prices can counter balance the impact of currency movements, as demonstrated with UK and Western European cities. It is important to understand local costs when deploying employees in countries across the world and we use the Mercer International basket of goods, based on typical spending patterns representative of expatriates, to help calculate rankings and packages.”
Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking, said, “Despite some marked price increases across the region, several local currencies in Europe have weakened against the US Dollar which pushed a few cities down in the ranking. Additionally, other factors like recent security issues, social unrest, and concern about the economic outlook have impacted the region.”
A few cities in Eastern and Central Europe climbed in the ranking as well, including Kiev (176) and Tirana (186), rising eight and twelve spots, respectively.