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Cost of Living - The Americas October 2012

The Americas: Cost of Living Rankings for October 2012


Which cities / countries drop in the ranking, and which moved up?

  • The biggest mover down the rankings is Puebla in Mexico, which has dropped to become the 582nd most expensive location in the world.
  • The biggest mover up the rankings is Belmopan in Belize, which has risen to be the 362nd most expensive location in the world.


Reasons for this movement:

Puebla has become less expensive for expatriate’s to live in relative to other global locations.  Most of its economy is based on industry with one of the world's largest Volkswagen factories outside of Germany.  The relatively lower cost of living experienced in Puebla have helped contribute to a relatively high purchasing power in US Dollar terms, and have helped make it’s industry more competitive in global terms.

Belize's economy is highly susceptible to market changes outside the country. Although moderate growth has been achieved in recent years, the cost of living is directly related to the economy which is vulnerable to world commodity price fluctuations and trading agreements, especially with the U.S. (30% primarily cane sugar) and the UK (21% primarily bananas).  The global slowdown in economic activity is putting downward pressure on demand for Belize exports.


Xpatulator’s Cost of Living rankings are released every quarter and measure the comparative cost of living for expatriates in 780 cities, covering every country worldwide.  The cost of 13 basket groups with over 140 items are compared in each location, these include alcohol and tobacco, clothing, communication, education, furniture and appliances, groceries, healthcare, housing, personal care, recreation and culture, restaurants-meals-out and hotels, and transport.

Caracas as the most expensive city in America has an overall cost of living index of 126.19 compared to New York with an index of 100, and Tokyo with an index of 139.89. Caracas’ cost of living index is similar to cities such as Hong Kong, Luanda, and Yokohama.

Caracas is the most expensive city mainly because of Venezuela’s mix of strong demand within the economy due to the dominance of the oil industry together with a lack of supply of goods and services due mainly to price controls for a range of basic products and ongoing nationalizations and expropriations.

Particularly expensive in Caracas are the following basket groups clothing, furniture & appliances, groceries, healthcare, housing, personal care, recreation & culture, restaurants meals out and hotels.

Benchmark rental for a secure upmarket unfurnished apartment (3 bedrooms) is $4,535 in a central location, and $2,515 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities.  Benchmark price for a Blu-ray player is $198, and $1,953 for a 46 inch LED HD TV.  Benchmark price for a private practice Doctor visit for an uninsured patient is $131, and a private hospital stay per day including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food, and related costs is $3,858.

To provide an assignee, sent from a low cost of living country to a more expensive country, with a similar purchasing power to what they have in their home country, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary.  The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in the host country.


The below ranking shows the overall Cost of Living Rankings in The Americas by city:

  1. Venezuela, Caracas
  2. USA, New York (Manhattan) NY
  3. Bermuda, Hamilton
  4. Brazil, Sao Paulo
  5. Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
  6. Cayman Islands, George Town
  7. Canada, Toronto
  8. USA, New York (Brooklyn) NY
  9. USA, New York NY
  10. Brazil, Brasilia
  11. Canada, Vancouver
  12. Bahamas, Nassau
  13. USA, Honolulu HI
  14. Antigua and Barbuda, Saint John's
  15. Canada, Calgary
  16. Haiti, Port-au-Prince
  17. USA, New York (Queens) NY
  18. Falkland Islands, Stanley
  19. Barbados, Bridgetown
  20. Canada, Edmonton
  21. USA, San Jose CA
  22. Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre
  23. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown
  24. Canada, Montreal
  25. Grenada, Saint George's
  26. USA, San Francisco CA
  27. USA, Nassau County NY
  28. Martinique, Fort-de-France
  29. USA, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA
  30. USA, Orange County CA
  31. Brazil, Salvador
  32. Canada, Ottawa
  33. Brazil, Belo Horizonte
  34. USA, Oakland CA
  35. Jamaica, Kingston
  36. Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome
  37. USA, Anchorage AK
  38. Dominica, Roseau
  39. USA, Los Angeles-Long Beach CA
  40. Uruguay, Montevideo
  41. USA, Boston MA
  42. USA, San Diego CA
  43. Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain
  44. Brazil, Fortaleza
  45. USA, Bergen-Passaic NJ
  46. USA, Philadelphia PA
  47. Puerto Rico, San Juan
  48. Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre
  49. Saint Lucia, Castries
  50. USA, Amarillo TX
  51. USA, Hartford CT
  52. Mexico, Toluca
  53. USA, Middlesex-Monmouth NJ
  54. USA, New Haven CT
  55. USA, Fresno CA
  56. USA, Seattle WA
  57. USA, Chicago IL
  58. USA, Dutchess County NY
  59. USA, Sacramento CA
  60. Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
  61. USA, Baltimore MD
  62. USA, Burlington-Chittenden Co VT
  63. Mexico, Monterrey
  64. USA, Portland ME
  65. Colombia, Bogota
  66. USA, Fort Lauderdale FL
  67. USA, Riverside City CA
  68. Belize, Belmopan
  69. USA, Manchester NH
  70. Argentina, Buenos Aires
  71. USA, Hampton Roads-SE Virginia VA
  72. USA, Portland OR
  73. Chile, Santiago
  74. USA, St. Paul MN
  75. USA, Minneapolis MN
  76. USA, Eugene OR
  77. USA, Miami-Dade County FL
  78. Mexico, Mexico City
  79. USA, Bakersfield CA
  80. USA, Albany NY
  81. Costa Rica, San Jose
  82. Peru, Lima
  83. USA, Richmond VA
  84. French Guiana, Cayenne
  85. USA, Lancaster PA
  86. Mexico, Tijuana
  87. USA, Phoenix AZ
  88. Mexico, Leon
  89. Argentina, Cordoba
  90. USA, Sarasota FL
  91. USA, Las Vegas NV
  92. USA, Indianapolis IN
  93. USA, Cleveland OH
  94. USA, Reno-Sparks NV
  95. USA, Akron OH
  96. USA, Rochester NY
  97. USA, Milwaukee-Waukesha WI
  98. USA, Gainesville FL
  99. USA, Binghamton NY
  100. USA, Asheville NC
  101. USA, Denver CO
  102. USA, Colorado All Other Areas CO
  103. USA, Detroit MI
  104. USA, Columbia SC
  105. USA, Wilmington NC
  106. Mexico, Guadalajara
  107. USA, York County PA
  108. USA, Boise ID
  109. USA, Montgomery AL
  110. USA, Plano TX
  111. USA, Durham NC
  112. USA, Raleigh NC
  113. USA, Bradenton FL
  114. USA, Salt Lake City UT
  115. USA, Orlando FL
  116. USA, Evansville IN
  117. USA, Charleston SC
  118. USA, Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL
  119. USA, Spokane WA
  120. USA, Davenport-Moline-Rock Is IA-IL
  121. USA, Tucson AZ
  122. USA, Fayetteville NC
  123. USA, Green Bay WI
  124. USA, Kansas City MO
  125. USA, Rockford IL
  126. Suriname, Paramaribo
  127. USA, Myrtle Beach SC
  128. USA, Appleton WI
  129. USA, Jackson MS
  130. USA, Austin TX
  131. USA, Pittsburgh PA
  132. USA, Jacksonville FL
  133. USA, Lincoln NE
  134. USA, Fort Wayne-Allen County IN
  135. USA, Arlington TX
  136. USA, Tampa FL
  137. USA, Atlanta GA
  138. USA, Kennewick-Richland-Pasco WA
  139. USA, Columbus OH
  140. USA, Cincinnati OH
  141. Mexico, Puebla
  142. USA, Buffalo NY
  143. USA, Little Rock-North Little Rock AR
  144. Guatemala, Guatemala City
  145. USA, Dallas TX
  146. USA, Augusta GA
  147. Argentina, Rosario
  148. USA, Erie PA
  149. USA, Kalamazoo MI
  150. USA, Charleston WV
  151. USA, Savannah GA
  152. Paraguay, Asuncion
  153. USA, Charlotte NC
  154. USA, Mobile AL
  155. USA, Baton Rouge LA
  156. USA, Colorado Springs CO
  157. Panama, Panama City
  158. USA, Dayton OH
  159. USA, Cedar Rapids IA
  160. USA, San Antonio TX
  161. USA, El Paso TX
  162. USA, St. Louis MO
  163. USA, Martinsburg-Berkeley County WV
  164. USA, Roanoke VA
  165. USA, Shreveport-Bossier City LA
  166. USA, Greenville SC
  167. USA, Wichita KS
  168. USA, Midland TX
  169. Honduras, Tegucigalpa
  170. USA, Fayetteville AR
  171. USA, Fort Worth TX
  172. USA, Lexington KY
  173. USA, Huntsville AL
  174. USA, Houston TX
  175. USA, South Bend IN
  176. USA, Des Moines IA
  177. USA, Chattanooga TN
  178. USA, Youngstown-Warren OH
  179. USA, Oklahoma City OK
  180. USA, Omaha NE
  181. El Salvador, San Salvador
  182. USA, Birmingham AL
  183. USA, Clarksville TN
  184. Guyana, Georgetown
  185. Cuba, Havana
  186. USA, Corpus Christi TX
  187. USA, Brazoria County TX
  188. USA, Tulsa OK
  189. USA, Winston-Salem NC
  190. USA, Springfield MO
  191. USA, Lubbock TX
  192. USA, Memphis TN
  193. USA, Louisville KY
  194. USA, Murfreesboro-Smyrna TN
  195. Ecuador, Quito
  196. USA, Brownsville TX
  197. USA, Johnson City TN
  198. USA, McAllen TX
  199. USA, Knoxville TN
  200. USA, Nashville-Franklin TN
  201. USA, Fort Smith AR
  202. USA, Harlingen TX
  203. Bolivia, La Paz
  204. Nicaragua, Managua


The below ranking shows the Cost of Living Rankings in The Americas by city excluding housing, education, healthcare and transport basket groups:

  1. Venezuela, Caracas
  2. Bermuda, Hamilton
  3. Brazil, Sao Paulo
  4. USA, New York (Manhattan) NY
  5. Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
  6. Cayman Islands, George Town
  7. Antigua and Barbuda, Saint John's
  8. Brazil, Brasilia
  9. Barbados, Bridgetown
  10. Canada, Toronto
  11. Canada, Vancouver
  12. Canada, Calgary
  13. Bahamas, Nassau
  14. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown
  15. Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre
  16. Canada, Edmonton
  17. Haiti, Port-au-Prince
  18. Grenada, Saint George's
  19. Canada, Montreal
  20. Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome
  21. Martinique, Fort-de-France
  22. USA, New York (Brooklyn) NY
  23. USA, New York NY
  24. Brazil, Belo Horizonte
  25. Canada, Ottawa
  26. USA, Honolulu HI
  27. Puerto Rico, San Juan
  28. Brazil, Salvador
  29. Dominica, Roseau
  30. Mexico, Toluca
  31. Jamaica, Kingston
  32. Saint Lucia, Castries
  33. Uruguay, Montevideo
  34. Falkland Islands, Stanley
  35. USA, New York (Queens) NY
  36. Mexico, Monterrey
  37. Brazil, Fortaleza
  38. Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre
  39. USA, San Francisco CA
  40. Colombia, Bogota
  41. Chile, Santiago
  42. USA, San Jose CA
  43. USA, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA
  44. Mexico, Mexico City
  45. USA, Nassau County NY
  46. French Guiana, Cayenne
  47. Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain
  48. Peru, Lima
  49. Costa Rica, San Jose
  50. USA, Anchorage AK
  51. Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
  52. USA, Oakland CA
  53. Mexico, Tijuana
  54. Mexico, Guadalajara
  55. Mexico, Leon
  56. USA, Orange County CA
  57. Mexico, Puebla
  58. USA, Philadelphia PA
  59. Guatemala, Guatemala City
  60. USA, Boston MA
  61. Belize, Belmopan
  62. USA, Bergen-Passaic NJ
  63. USA, Los Angeles-Long Beach CA
  64. USA, Hartford CT
  65. USA, New Haven CT
  66. Guyana, Georgetown
  67. USA, San Diego CA
  68. Argentina, Buenos Aires
  69. USA, Seattle WA
  70. Ecuador, Quito
  71. USA, Burlington-Chittenden Co VT
  72. USA, Middlesex-Monmouth NJ
  73. USA, Fresno CA
  74. Honduras, Tegucigalpa
  75. USA, Baltimore MD
  76. USA, Dutchess County NY
  77. USA, Sacramento CA
  78. Paraguay, Asuncion
  79. USA, Chicago IL
  80. USA, Fort Lauderdale FL
  81. Suriname, Paramaribo
  82. Cuba, Havana
  83. USA, Manchester NH
  84. USA, Hampton Roads-SE Virginia VA
  85. USA, Portland ME
  86. USA, St. Paul MN
  87. USA, Riverside City CA
  88. USA, Portland OR
  89. Panama, Panama City
  90. USA, Miami-Dade County FL
  91. USA, Minneapolis MN
  92. USA, Albany NY
  93. USA, Bakersfield CA
  94. Argentina, Rosario
  95. Argentina, Cordoba
  96. USA, Sarasota FL
  97. USA, Cleveland OH
  98. USA, Lancaster PA
  99. USA, Las Vegas NV
  100. USA, Phoenix AZ
  101. USA, Richmond VA
  102. El Salvador, San Salvador
  103. USA, Reno-Sparks NV
  104. USA, Wilmington NC
  105. Nicaragua, Managua
  106. USA, Asheville NC
  107. USA, Gainesville FL
  108. USA, Columbia SC
  109. USA, Denver CO
  110. USA, Akron OH
  111. USA, Eugene OR
  112. USA, Colorado All Other Areas CO
  113. USA, Charleston SC
  114. USA, Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL
  115. USA, Raleigh NC
  116. USA, Bradenton FL
  117. USA, Montgomery AL
  118. USA, Salt Lake City UT
  119. USA, York County PA
  120. USA, Myrtle Beach SC
  121. USA, Milwaukee-Waukesha WI
  122. USA, Fayetteville NC
  123. USA, Indianapolis IN
  124. USA, Plano TX
  125. USA, Augusta GA
  126. Bolivia, La Paz
  127. USA, Baton Rouge LA
  128. USA, Orlando FL
  129. USA, Boise ID
  130. USA, Rochester NY
  131. USA, Jacksonville FL
  132. USA, Mobile AL
  133. USA, Davenport-Moline-Rock Is IA-IL
  134. USA, Durham NC
  135. USA, Pittsburgh PA
  136. USA, Evansville IN
  137. USA, Tucson AZ
  138. USA, Arlington TX
  139. USA, Kansas City MO
  140. USA, Detroit MI
  141. USA, Greenville SC
  142. USA, Atlanta GA
  143. USA, Binghamton NY
  144. USA, Winston-Salem NC
  145. USA, Shreveport-Bossier City LA
  146. USA, Charlotte NC
  147. USA, Jackson MS
  148. USA, Cincinnati OH
  149. USA, Little Rock-North Little Rock AR
  150. USA, El Paso TX
  151. USA, Savannah GA
  152. USA, Tampa FL
  153. USA, St. Louis MO
  154. USA, Chattanooga TN
  155. USA, Erie PA
  156. USA, Dallas TX
  157. USA, Colorado Springs CO
  158. USA, Buffalo NY
  159. USA, Kalamazoo MI
  160. USA, Fort Wayne-Allen County IN
  161. USA, Fayetteville AR
  162. USA, Cedar Rapids IA
  163. USA, Spokane WA
  164. USA, Huntsville AL
  165. USA, Appleton WI
  166. USA, Lincoln NE
  167. USA, Austin TX
  168. USA, Rockford IL
  169. USA, Birmingham AL
  170. USA, Oklahoma City OK
  171. USA, Roanoke VA
  172. USA, Green Bay WI
  173. USA, Columbus OH
  174. USA, South Bend IN
  175. USA, Kennewick-Richland-Pasco WA
  176. USA, Youngstown-Warren OH
  177. USA, Midland TX
  178. USA, Wichita KS
  179. USA, Murfreesboro-Smyrna TN
  180. USA, Des Moines IA
  181. USA, San Antonio TX
  182. USA, Charleston WV
  183. USA, Martinsburg-Berkeley County WV
  184. USA, Knoxville TN
  185. USA, Dayton OH
  186. USA, Fort Worth TX
  187. USA, Clarksville TN
  188. USA, Memphis TN
  189. USA, Lexington KY
  190. USA, Springfield MO
  191. USA, Nashville-Franklin TN
  192. USA, Tulsa OK
  193. USA, Omaha NE
  194. USA, Amarillo TX
  195. USA, Fort Smith AR
  196. USA, Lubbock TX
  197. USA, Johnson City TN
  198. USA, Houston TX
  199. USA, Brazoria County TX
  200. USA, Brownsville TX
  201. USA, Corpus Christi TX
  202. USA, Louisville KY
  203. USA, McAllen TX
  204. USA, Harlingen TX

Xpatulator.com Head of Client and Marketing Services Denise McManus comments that: “Expatriates paid US Dollar packages are better off compared to a year ago in countries such as  Malawi, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Indonesia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Mozambique.  However, a number of countries have become relatively more expensive in dollar terms.  These countries include Kenya, Uganda, Colombia, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.  Purchasing power for US Dollar expatriates in these countries has decreased significantly in the past year.  You need to plan a move to these countries with the knowledge that your salary will cover your cost of living with the purchasing power you are used to.  This is where we come in, we provide the information that multinational companies and the man on the street can use to calculate the salary that the employee needs to earn to maintain their purchasing power.”

New York City is used as the base for the cost of living index rankings and the US dollar is used as the base currency. The cost of living data collected is representative of an expatriate lifestyle, where the local prices for fixed quantities of the same good and services at or near each location, and US dollar exchange rates are used.  Prices in each location are affected by availability (i.e. supply and demand) as well as local pricing regulations and taxes on goods and services (e.g. premiums on luxury goods).  Local inflation is usually representative of local price increases, which in turn impacts an expatriates purchasing power in the host country.  The exchange rate impacts both the price of imports to the host country and the expatriate assignment salary calculation between the home and the host country.  The cost of living has a significant impact on the purchasing power of an expatriate’s salary package.



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