This Visualization Shows the Real Cost of Relocation Around the World

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People have been moving away from the countryside and into urban areas for several decades. Many economists believe this trend will only continue, making cities the engines of economic growth for the foreseeable future. But this begs the question: how much does it cost to move to a city, and can you afford it?

The data for our visualization come from Nestpick, an online listing service for furnished apartments. If there’s anyone with enough sophistication to accurately capture volumes of data about the cost of relocating, it’s Nestpick. They looked at a variety of factors to curate a list of 80 cities, including the processing time for visa applications, each city’s startup culture and the prevalence of job listings. We focused our analysis only on the cost of relocation. First, we grouped each city in Nestpick’s dataset by continent. Then, we created a histogram heatmap representing the cost of moving to each city, breaking down each category of expense. We included the total figures and each country’s flag for easy reference.

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Top 10 Most Expensive Cities Around the World for Relocation

1. Dubai, UAE: $4,243

2. Auckland, New Zealand: $3,995

3. San Francisco, USA: $3,756

4. New York, USA: $3,363

5. London, UK: $3,199

6. Sydney, Australia: $2,991

7. Oslo, Norway: $2,913

8. Zurich, Switzerland: $2,890

9. Tel Aviv, Israel: $2,885

10. Amsterdam, Netherlands: $2,722

Our visualization lets you easily and quickly see a few different insights about the cost of living around the world. First off, most of the expensive cities tend to be in English-speaking countries like New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia. This trend holds true across continents, and it makes us wonder to what extent the relative level of expense is directly correlated with the English language. Another way to think about this is to look at the cheapest cities for relocation–Cairo, Bangalore, Bucharest. We doubt a lot of people speak very much English in these places.

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Drilling further into the data, our visualization makes it readily apparent why some places are so expensive. In short, the cost of renting an apartment is exorbitantly expensive in cities like San Francisco and London. Look how much blue is contained in the graphic; it is almost always the most expensive component, as indicated by its position on the left. There are a handful of outliers, notably Dubai, Tel Aviv and Manchester. But that’s only because these places have above-average costs for getting a visa. Clearly the UAE, Israel and perhaps even Britain are interested in limiting the number of people who can afford to relocate there—or perhaps they simply want more rich people to move in.

Data: Table 1.1

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