Global Cost of Living Study


Apr 15, 2008
UBS bank of Switzerland publishes a tri-annual study of costs and wages in major cities of the world. The 2009 results were just released, showing Buenos Aires rising from 69th most-expensive city in the 2006 study to the 60th, largely because of local inflation. If the typical cost of rent is included, Buenos Aires rose from 70 to 62 in the rankings.

The studies also include detailed analyses of wages and costs by category of goods (food, clothing, electronics/appliances, etc.)

Cities moving down the list, less expensive than Buenos Aires, include Santiago (by a tiny margin), Johannesburg, Bogota, and Mexico City. The most dramatic change among South American cities, is Caracas, where costs rose from a ranking of 35th to 12th in the 3-year span.

You can download the detailed studies and charts for 2009 at,
and for 2006 at

The studies index costs and earnings to dollars, so the results may be most interesting to Yanqui expats like me, who are most familiar with costs in the US.

I'm attaching a jpeg of a summary spreadsheet comparing results from 2009 to 2006 and calculating costs in other cities relative to Buenos Aires. Anyone who wants to manipulate the spreadsheet should send me a pm.


  • COL 2009.jpg
    COL 2009.jpg
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Just as I expected: Caracas has become one of the most expensive cities on earth.