Expats should head straight for incredible, affordable India

Except for Mumbai, still expensive.
Except for Mumbai, still expensive.
Image: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade
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The cost of living in Indian cities for expatriates happens to be among the lowest in the world.

On a list of 211 cities from around the world that Mercer, a global human resources firm, compared in terms of cost of living for expatriates, Kolkata was found to be the least expensive Indian city. The city was ranked at 205. Mumbai is the most expensive of the Indian cities on the list. The study takes into consideration housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment amongst other goods and services in each location.

Four of the top 10 cities are in Asia; Karachi in Pakistan was found to be the least expensive of the 211 countries surveyed. The rankings are affected by a change in the exchange rate which results in the rankings shifting considerably every year. (For example, Mumbai was ranked at 118 last year and is now at 140.)

Delhi was found to be cheaper than Mumbai for expats and ranks at 157. Other Indian cities on the list include Bangalore and Chennai. While Bangalore was ranked at 196, Chennai came in at 185.

Some of the cities on the top of the list are from poorer countries like Angola and Chad which take first and second place on the list. This is because while countries might not be very expensive to live in for locals, secure living accommodations for expatriates may be expensive. Also the cost of imported goods affects the ranking.

A few months ago, Mumbai was found to be the least expensive city in a list of 131 cities globally to live in according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Index 2014. Mumbai in fact was found to be cheaper to live in than Delhi according to this list. Singapore was found to be the most expensive city in the world. The Mercer list, meanwhile, ranks Singapore at number four behind Hong Kong.

Other cities from the Indian subcontinent on the Mercer list include Islamabad, which ranks as more expensive for expats than Chennai and Bangalore at 208. Colombo ranks as more expensive to live in than even Mumbai at the rank of 164. Dhaka is the most expensive in the region at the rank of 117.