How the Cost of Living Table Works–Limits

This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha.  Most of our newer reports no longer use the below-described cost of living format.  But if you happen to be reading an older report and don’t understand how it works, this will help you understand.  

Understanding the Old Cost of Living Table Format

The estimated cost of living table included in each location report is for one month, for one person as a temporary visitor. It only includes rent, 2 meals per day, and local transportation–the three basics.

Disclaimer: These cost of living estimates include only food, rent, and local transportation. It does not include medical insurance or other common expenses.  In addition to adding the cost of medical insurance, you should have significant savings available for emergencies.  Do not rely on these numbers.  You have to do an exploratory visit to determine the cost of living for your personal lifestyle.

For a full understanding of what it would cost you to live in each destination, visit and add any items you spend money on, that are not included in the three basics.

You can get quotes on medical insurance by Googling the words “Medical Insurance for Expats in Country Name.”

The below table is not a real place. We are just using sample data below to explain how the table works. Once you understand the table, you should refer to individual location reports to understand data for that particular location.

I am not guaranteeing your cost of living will be the same as any table. The table in each report is just notes and estimates from the time of my visit. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since that report was created.

You should never move anywhere until you have visited there in person and verified the quality of life that is affordable to you based upon your own personal spending habits … on the ground there.

For a better understanding of what it would cost you to live in any place, count every item you spend money on at home for a month. Then add those expenses to the table numbers. You can find local costs of each expense for most locations on Just Google and the name of the city you are considering moving to. They often have an item by item estimated cost for most areas of the world.

But that is still only an estimate until you go there, pick a neighborhood, verify rents and all other expenses in that neighborhood.

In that sense, the table only gives you a relative sense of what a place costs as compared to other places in other reports, with regard to only the three basic expenses given–rent, 2 meals, local transportation–for one person, one month. You still have to go there and calibrate it with your lifestyle before making a final decision.

Our only intent is to help limit which locations you visit before making a final decision.  If a place is not even in your budget range, then it is not worth a visit before making a final decision.

I am not trying to be negative here.  It is just that many people who read these reports will be living only on a limited budget or social security.  They need to understand true costs because they don’t have a pool of resources to save them if they miscalculate.  They need to calculate with open eyes.

Cost of Living Table

Expense Cost Each Low Medium High
Airbnb $18.00 0 14 30
Cheap Hotel $17.00 0 12 0
Hostel $9.00 30 4 0
$$$ Restaurant $9.00 1 4 8
$ Restaurant $3.00 30 44 48
Food Cart $2.00 30 12 4
Subway $0.00 20 26 8
Bus $0.60 20 10 0
Taxi $3.00 6 10 20
Total Month $459.00 $720.00 $824.00
Total Day $15.30 $24.00 $27.47

Low Budget Traveler: The below column uses the low budget column to computer for low budget travelers.

Low Budget Traveler (LBT)

Expense Column: The ‘Expense’ column lists the things a traveler can pick at the time. Airbnb, Cheap Hotel, Hostel, $$$ Restaurants, $ Restaurants, Food Cart, Subway, Bus, and Taxi.

Cost Each Column (USD$): The ‘Cost Each’ column says how much something costs at the time. Airbnb is $18 per day, Cheap Hotel is $17 per day, Hostel is $9 per day, $$$ Restaurants is $9 per person per meal, $ Restaurants is $3 per person per meal, Food Cart is $2 per person per meal, Subway $0 per ride (meaning there is no subway here), Bus is $0.60 per ride), and Taxi is $3 per ride).

Low Column: The ‘Low’ column is for the low budget traveler (LBT). The numbers in the low column (0, 0, 30, 1, 30, 30, 20, 20, 6) say how many times per month the LBT will buy that row.

LBT Accommodations: Thus, the LBT buys zero Airbnb nights per month (0x$18), plus zero Cheap hotels per night (0x$17), and plus 30 hostels nights per month (30X$9). Total Accommodations= (0x$18)+(0x$17)+(30X$9)=$270/month

LBT Restaurants: LBT buys one $$$ Restaurants meal per month (1X$9), plus 30 $Restaurants meals per month (30X$3), plus 30 Food Carts meals per month (30x$3) per month. Total Restaurants: (1X$9)+(30X$3)+(30x$2)= $159 for 61 meals per month. I usually eat 2 meals per day, You should add more if you eat more.

LBT Local Transportation: Subway 20 times per month $0 per ride ($0 means there is no Subway here)(20x$0.0), plus Bus is 20 times at $0.60 per ride (20x$0.6), plus Taxi is 6 times at $3 each (6x$3). Total Transportation = (20x$0.0)+(20x$0.6)+(6x$3)=$30 per month

LBT Total per month: Accommodations $270, plus Meals $159, plus Transportation $30

Equals $459 per month. Divided by 30 days is $15.30 per day.

Medium Budget Traveler:

I will describe this another way in case you were not getting what I said above.

The Medium level traveler is estimated to stay in an Airbnb (1 bedroom Apt) 14 nights per month (14x multiplier), a moderate hotel 12 nights per month (12x) and a hostel (4x) per month. The Medium traveler is estimated to eat at high-end restaurants 4 times per month (4x), to eat at neighborhood restaurants 44 times per month (44x) and a food cart 12 times per month (12x). Thus, the Low, Medium and High living expense estimates per month are determined using the above multiplier table.

Notice that the table is for one person and does not include excursions, entertainment or alcohol. It only includes food, meals, and local transportation.

One Additional Explanation:

If you are still not getting how this works, I will try a third time here … How does the table expense estimate table work?

Each item (Hostel $9) is multiplied by the number of times that item is purchased per month (30 days). Then each multiple is summed to get the monthly numbers. The daily rate is just the monthly divided by 30 days.

How does the table guestimate $459 per month ($15.30 per day) in the low budget column?

Above Low Budget: Multiplication: Hostel $9 x 30 days = $270. $$$ Restaurant $9 x 1 month = $9. $ Restaurant $3 x 30 times = $90. Food Cart $2 x 30 times = $60. Subway $0 means there is no Subway there. Bus $0.6 x 20 times = $12. Taxi $3 x 6 times = $18.

Monthly Sum: Hostel $270 + $$$ Restaurant $9 + $ Restaurant $90 + Food Cart $60 + Subway $0 + Bus $12 + Taxi $18 = $459 Monthly Estimate.

Daily. $459/30 = $15.30

Liability Disclaimer: While we have done our best to share our travel data with you, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained using this information. All information is provided “AS-IS,” with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness, or for the results obtained using this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will we be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information for any consequential, special or similar damages. Any reliance on the information in our videos or the comments below is strictly at your own risk. Instead, you should consult with legal, medical, financial, tax, and/or other such appropriate professionals familiar with your unique and detailed factual situation before taking any actions.

Copyrights (c) 2019,