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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The Cost of Living Abroad

Ecuador offers a lot to expats for little money. Nigeria and Kazakhstan rank poorly in our Cost of Living Index, despite financial stability.


For our Personal Finance Index, we ranked more than 60 countries according to our participants’ personal satisfaction with their financial situation and whether they consider their income sufficient for their daily lives.

Moreover, we asked the respondents to rate the cost of living in their country of residence from "very good" to "very bad".

Unlike other cost of living rankings, such as the one provided by Mercer, our index focuses on the participants’ overall satisfaction with the cost of living in their country. The result is a reverse cost of living index, ranking countries with the best costs of living highest. Living expenses were not considered as a factor in the Personal Finance Index, though.

In order to be included in either index, the countries required a sample size of at least 50 expatriates. They were asked to rate several factors based on a scale of one to five or one to seven.

Personal Finance Index

Personal Finance Index
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Ecuador: The Most Financially Satisfying Place

Ecuador occupies the first place in our Personal Finance Index. When asked how satisfied they are with their financial situation, 85% of our participants give the country a positive rating. About one-third even deem it "very good".

The majority is also rather happy with their income. All in all, 94% consider what they earn to be at least sufficient for their daily life, and 47% even believe that they earn more than enough.

Ecuador also occupies the best rank in our Cost of Living Index. Of all participants, 88% rate it positively and 45% even describe the general cost of living as "very good".

According to Market Watch, Ecuador is a country popular for its low living expenses among US American expatriates and retirees alike. At the same time, Ecuador offers good-quality medical services and a good infrastructure.

Nigeria: Last in Cost of Living

With 78% positive ratings, Nigeria comes in a close second after Ecuador, in terms of our participants’ personal satisfaction with their financial situation. About one-third of them even indicate that they are very satisfied with their personal finances.

When asked whether they consider their income sufficient for their daily life, 68% of our participants give a positive answer. In fact, over 30% even state that they earn quite a bit more than what they’d need to get by.

This result may be somewhat surprising when we take a look at Nigeria’s place in the Cost of Living Index. Of all the countries on the list, Nigeria comes in last, on 61st place.

Despite 23% positive ratings, one-third of our participants deem the cost of living in Nigeria very poor.

Nigeria’s economy is one of the biggest in Africa. However, recent security threats have kept foreign investors away and force the government to invest a big share of their budget into army and security forces. Moreover, the country suffers from clogged traffic and chronic power cuts. Upholding a certain standard of living under such circumstances might result in higher expenses among the expat community.

Financial Stability Is High in Kazakhstan

The participants in Kazakhstan are rather satisfied both with their personal financial situation and with their income. Overall, 75% give a positive rating when asked about their financial situation and 17% even find it "very good". Only 9% respond with a negative assessment.

A vast majority also indicate that they are satisfied with their monthly income. All in all, 38% even think they earn rather more than enough to cover expenses of their daily life.

Although their income is sufficient, survey participants give the cost of living in Kazakhstan only a mediocre rating. The country is number 38 in our Cost of Living Index. While 42% are satisfied, 35% evaluate the cost of living in Kazakhstan rather negatively.

The landlocked country relies heavily on its neighbors for the import of various consumer goods. This might just contribute to keeping expenses for daily goods and services high. Furthermore, there is still room for improvement in Kazakhstan’s infrastructure, telecommunication, and the supply and distribution of electricity.