How Houston ranks in the worldwide cost of living index

Houston is usually thought of as a fairly low-cost city in the United States, but the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2018 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey shows that's not true.

It's more expensive to live in Chicago, but we have it better off than Seattle, Boston and Honolulu. The The EIU's Steven Leslie said they look at the costs of living like buying groceries, maintaining a car, renting an apartment and paying utilities.

“What is really used for, primarily, is for companies that send a lot of people, or hire a lot of people abroad, so that they can set their compensation levels for people correctly around the world,” said Leslie.

Houston is significantly cheaper than New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

Houston moved down six positions to rank number 41 in the world because the slight weakening of US currency and euro gaining strength.

“In terms of cost, the United States turns out to be a relatively inexpensive place to do business for well-developed sectors of the economy,” said Leslie.

US cities have fallen by an average of four places thanks to a moderation in the strength of the dollar, although they remain expensive compared to five years ago when New York was ranked in 27th position. Chicago (41st) and Washington, DC (37th) for example fell by 14 and ten places, respectively. The outlier Boston was the only city to move up the ranking owing to increasing grocery and alcohol prices.

Latin America as a whole saw some of the sharpest movements both up and down the ranking. A stronger peso pushed Chile’s capital, Santiago, up the ranking by 20 places, reflecting an increase in the price of copper, a key Chilean export. Caracas in Venezuela remains the cheapest Latin American city and the second cheapest city globally, ranked 132nd, with a cost of living 67% lower than that of New York.

Conversely, Canadian cities have stayed relatively stable, with only Montreal moving three places up the ranking to joint 59th place.

Globally Singapore was the most expensive city for the fifth year running, while Damascus in Syria was the cheapest.

A free version of the report can be downloaded at

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