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Most Expensive and Cheapest Countries in Europe

Most Expensive and Cheapest Countries in Europe

Which are the most affordable countries in Europe? Which are the most expensive ones? In this post I am going to analyze such issues using a number of sources  and items (see below) that  can help solve this conundrum.  We saw earlier which are the most expensive and cheapest cities in Europe. Today I am going to focus on each country as a whole. The main parameters used to list the countries in this ranking are GDP per capita, place in the UN Human Development Index, the Big Mac Index, the price of the shopping basket in each country compared to the European average, the price of 1 Kg of rice (as representative of staple food) and then, within each country, you can even check the most expensive and cheapest cities.  As we all know, everything is relative (e.g., the market basket in a given country may be more expensive but taxes may be lower), but I think it can offer an overview of the current state of affairs.

While it is true that living standards tend to be lower in Eastern European countries, they are also generally cheaper, or more affordable, if you like, for tourists, expats or people teleworking online (such as freelance translators or graphic designers) for, say, western companies or agencies. On the other hand, Scandinavian countries are considered to be expensive but they also rank among the countries with the highest living standards not only in Europe, but in the world. They are undoubtedly an example of good governance for others to follow.

Today I won’t go into qualitative aspects, since many would argue —not without reason— that weather conditions, the nutritional quality of local food, the social fabric, the quality of social services, gender-equality policies, even the so-called Happiness Index… are key elements for a good quality of life. I fully share this view, but it is a different kettle of fish.

Below the list of the cheapest countries you can find a description of the main concepts and benchmarks I have used to draw up the ranking as well as the sources consulted.

Most expensive countries in Europe

suiza-pais-mas-caro-de-europa

Most expensive countries in Europe (starting with the most expensive one)

  1. Switzerland

    cost of living in Switzerland

Population: 8,544,034

Currency: Swiss Franc

GDP per capita: 80,590 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 3

Big Mac Index: 6.59

Cost of the market basket: 163% of the European average

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 2.52 USD

Most expensive cities in Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Bern

Cheapest cities in Switzerland: Neuchatel, Aarau and St. Gallen

  1. Norway

    Cost of Living in Norway

Population: 5,312,343

Currency: Norwegian Krone

GDP per capita: 74,940 USD (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 1

Big Mac Index: 5.51

Cost of the market basket: 137% of the European average

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 2.98 USD

Most expensive cities in Norway: Oslo, Tromso and Bergen

Cheapest cities in Norway: Bodo and Kristiansand

  1. Iceland

    ranking most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe

Population: 350,710

Currency: Icelandic Krona

GDP per capita: 70,332 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 16

Big Mac Index: ——

Cost of the market basket: 125% of the European average

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 3.47 USD

Most expensive cities in Iceland: Reykjavik

Cheapest cities in Iceland: —

  1. Denmark

    Slovakia most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe

Population: 5,745,547

Currency: Danish Krone

GDP per capita: 56,444 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 4

Big Mac Index: 4.44

Cost of the market basket: 137% of the European average

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 2.05 USD

Most expensive cities in Denmark: Silkeborg and Copenhaguen

Cheapest cities in Denmark: Horsens, Odense and Vejle

  1. Luxembourg

    ranking most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe Cost of living in Europe

Population: 602,000

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 105,803 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 19

Big Mac Index: —

Cost of the market basket: 119% of the European average

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 2.05 USD

Puesto en el índice de desarrollo humano: 19

Most expensive cities in Luxembourg: Luxemburgo

Cheapest cities in Luxembourg : —-

  1. United Kingdom 

    cost of living in the UK, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Population: 66,040,229

Currency: Pound sterling

GDP per capita: 39,734 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 14

Big Mac Index: 3,94

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.70 USD

Most expensive cities in the UK: London, Oxford, Portsmouth, Aberdeen and Bristol

Cheapest cities in the UK: Sheffield, Sunderland y Dundee

Cost of the market basket: 131% of the European average

  1. Finland

    ranking most expensive and cheapest countries in Finland most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe

Population: 5,517,887

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 46,016 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 24

Big Mac Index: 5.06

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 2.20 USD

Most expensive cities in Finland: Helsinki and Tampere

Cheapest cities in Finland: Lapeenranta, Kuopio

Cost of the market basket: 120% of the European average

  1. Belgium

    cost of living in Belgium countries ranking

Population: 11,469,204

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 43,582 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 21

Big Mac Index: 4.35

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.74 USD

Most expensive cities in Belgium: Mons, Bruselas and Namur

Cheapest cities in Belgium: Leuven and Liege

Cost of the market basket: 107% of the European average

  1. Netherlands

    most expensive and cheapest countries in the Netherlands European Union

Population: 17,254,086

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 48,345 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 5

Big Mac Index: 3.8

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.62 USD

Most expensive cities in the Netherlands: Zwolle and Amsterdam

Cheapest cities in the Netherlands: Groningen and Enschede

Cost of the market basket: 109% of the European average

  1. France

    cost of living in France EU most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe

Population: 67,297,000

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 39,869 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 22

Big Mac Index: 4.51

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.90 USD

Most expensive cities in France: Perigueux, Paris, Lyon and Toulouse

Cheapest cities in France: Saint-Étienne, Montpellie, Marseilles and Perpignan

Cost of the market basket: 105% of the European average

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GDP nominal per capita based on USD exchange rate

map Europe GDP per capita

Cheapest countries in Europe

most expensive and cheapest countries Moldavia cost of living in Moldavia

 

Cheapest countries in Europe (starting with the cheapest one):

  1. Moldavia/ Moldova

    Moldavia cheapest cities cost of living in Moldavia

Population: 3,564,000

Currency: Moldovan leu

GDP per capita: 2,279 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 107

Big Mac Index: 1.75

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 0.95 USD

Most expensive cities in Moldavia: Tiraspol

Cheapest cities in Moldavia: Chișinău

Cost of the market basket: 40% of the European average

  1. Ukraine

    cost of living in Ukraine

Population: 42,895,704

Currency: Hryvnia

GDP per capita: 2,582 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 81

Big Mac Index: 1.57

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 0.99 USD

Most expensive cities in Ukraine: Kiev, Lutsk, Lviv, Kirovoghrad, Dnipro and Kharkiv

Cheapest cities in Ukraine: Simferopol and Zaporizhzhya

Cost of the market basket: 45% of the European average

  1. Macedonia

    Cost of living in Macedonia

Population: 2,075,301

Currency: Macedonian Denar

GDP per capita: 5,474 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 81

Big Mac Index: 1.90

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.26 USD

Most expensive cities in Macedonia: Veles

Cheapest cities in Macedonia: Prilep, Ohrib

Cost of the market basket: 48% of the European average

  1. Serbia

    cost of living in Serbia

Population: 7,040,272

Currency: Serbian Dinar

GDP per capita: 5,899 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 66

Big Mac Index: 2.08

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.08 USD

Most expensive cities in Serbia: Belgrade, Valjevo

Cheapest cities in Serbia: Zrenjanin, Nis

Cost of the market basket: 49% of the European average

  1. Albania

    cost of living in Albania

Population: 2,887,000

Currency: Albanian Lek

GDP per capita: 4,582 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 85

Big Mac Index: —–

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.08 USD

Most expensive cities in Albania: Korçë

Cheapest cities in Albania:Tirana, Vlorë and Elbasam

Cost of the market basket: 47% of the European average

  1. Bosnia and herzegovina

    cost of living in Bosnia

Population: 3,750,000

Currency: Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible Mark

GDP per capita: 5,148 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 86

Big Mac Index: ——

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.23 USD

Most expensive cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Zenica

Cheapest cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bihac

Cost of the market basket: 51% of the European average

  1. Romania

    cost of living in Romania European ranking countries

Population: 19,622,000

Currency: Leu

GDP per capita: 12,523 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 52

Big Mac Index: —-

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.04 USD

Most expensive cities in Romania: Focșani, Bucarest

Cheapest cities in Romania: Târgu Mureș

Cost of the market basket: 52% of the European average

  1. Bulgaria

    cost of living in Bulgaria Europe ranking list countries

Population: 7,050,034

Currency: Lev

GDP per capita: 8,064 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 59

Big Mac Index: 1,88

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.22 USD

Most expensive cities in Bulgaria: Pleven

Cheapest cities in Bulgaria: Burgas

Cost of the market basket: 47% of the European average

  1. Poland

    cost of living in Poland paises-mas-caros-y-mas-baratos-de-europa

Population: 38,433,600

Currency: Zloty

GDP per capita: 13,822 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 36

Big Mac Index: 2.42

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 0.82 USD

Most expensive cities in Poland: Warsaw, Kraków and Bielsko-Biala

Cheapest cities in Poland: Rzeszów, Radom and Gorzów Wielkopolski

Cost of the market basket: 55% of the European average

  1. Belarus

    cost of living in Belarus

Population: 9,452,113

Currency: Belarusian Ruble

GDP per capita: 5,760 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 50

Big Mac Index: —–

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 0.95 USD

Most expensive cities in Belarus: Minsk

Cheapest cities in Belarus: Maladzyechna

Cost of the market basket: —

  1. Montenegro

    cost of living in Montenegro

Population: 642,550

Currency: Euro

GDP per capita: 7,647 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 49

Big Mac Index: —-

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 1.25 USD

Most expensive cities in Montenegro: Budva

Cheapest cities in  Montenegro: Podgorica

Cost of the market basket: 55% of the European average

  1. Hungary

    cost of living in Hungary paises-mas-caros-y-mas-baratos-de-europa

Population: 9,771,000

Currency: Forint

GDP per capita: 15,531 (GDP nominal per capita – current international dollar)

Place in the UNDP Human Development Index: 44

Big Mac Index: 2.71

Price of rice (white, 1 kg): 01.06 USD

Most expensive cities in Hungary : Budapest, Szombathely y Györ

Cheapest cities in Hungary: Kaposvár, Szolnok y Kecskemét

Cost of the market basket: 57% of the European average

***

Explanation of the parameters used in this ranking

Most expensive and cheapest countries in Europe Cost of living in Europe
In red: most expensive countries    In blue: cheapest countries

GDP per capita is a measure that divides the country’s gross domestic product (its economic output) by its total population.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index of life expectancy, educational standards, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development.

Big Mac Index: The Big Mac Index, published by The Economist magazine, althought not perfect, is useful to measure the purchasing power parity (PPP) between countries and currencies. It uses the price of the famous hamburger as a benchmark. It somehow replaces the shopping basket with the famous hamburger.

Market basket: In an economic sense, a market basket is a permanent set of goods and services that are bought and sold as staples in a functional economy.  So it is is a fixed list of items, in given proportions, used specifically to track the progress of inflation in an economy.

I picked one kilo of white rice among  all the products which are representative of the cost of living because it is a minimally-processed staple food, so there is no need for a large number of productive factors as, for instance, a car.

Sources: Eurostat, Forbes, The Economist, statista.com, preciosmundo.com, Expatistan, bigmacindex.org, Numbeo.com

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