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What’s Your Wirtschaftlichkeit?

Cost of Living for Several Cities

Cost of Living for Several Cities

No I am not lost.  Nor did read the sign wrong and ended up in a German class by accident.  I just had a weekend in Germany, the other pillar stone of the Euro zone.  The newspapers here are full of articles of opinions on whether the Euro zone will survive this economic crisis.  What is the wirtschaftlichkeit (economic viability) of the Euro?  Clearly everyone is going through a challenging financial time but I feel the Euro will pull through.  Yet I do feel good that I am just under the Euro zone ceiling for cost of living.  Besides the wider streets, bigger food portions and a slightly more American feel, Germany is having to pull more Euros out of its wallet.  The price of a café was much closer to the 2 Euro mark whereas in my French neighborhood I can still get a cup of joe for as little as 1.20 Euros.  German public transport prices reminded back to my days in Philadelphia where a one-way bus trip approached 2 Euros compared to my simple 1 Euro in Nice.  Then for me to board the regional train system to neighboring cities like Cannes and Monaco, a one-way ticket is still under 4 Euros.  It felt like the German system was easily double for similar distances.  (for the record, they weren’t any more on-time then the French trains; so much for German precision.)

Cost of Living: NICE

Cost of Living: NICE

I did come across the site Numbeo.com which is a community website to measure cost of living all around the globe.  My curiosity was giving me a bigger rash then most mosquitos.  I decided to cross-compare the cities that I have lived in throughout my life.  Of course, the data is based upon major cities so I had to round-up on my actual locations to Kansas City, Indianapolis (close to University of Notre Dame), Philadelphia and Nice.  (nerd note: my comparison doesn’t factor in time so these are all 2011 numbers so don’t cite me for a false premise.)  Not to my surprise, Nice is the winner as far as the most expensive place I have lived in so far.  This non-epiphany happens in spite that I do live in the ghetto of the French Riviera: Nice.  It is surprising how much more expensive are the surrounding communities of Cannes, Antibes, St. Jean Cap Ferrat and the obvious Monaco.  I do chuckle every time I examine these indexes as they always say the center of the world is New York, NY.  That city is always the baseline and ranked at a 100 regardless of time or wirtschaftlichkeit.  Another factor to always keep in the back of your head, these indexes are also constructed based upon on the average salary of the region.  Then don’t forget currency exchange as the Euro is stronger still to the U.S. dollar.  The cost of living won’t feel that more expensive because I receive a salary in Euros; the greater purchasing power.  For one of my American colleagues, this point sucks because her contract states that she continue to be paid in U.S. dollars in spite she (and her family) are living in France.

Cost of Living: PHILADELPHIA

Cost of Living: PHILADELPHIA

I also feel these indexes should be taken with a grain of salt as two important factors are missing: taxes (another post soon to come) and health costs.

So what are the highlights?

  • The overall index for Indianapolis is higher than Philadelphia which is not that different from Kansas City.
  • The highest expenditure in Nice is Utilities (19%); whereas in the States it is Rent, Philadelphia (31%); Indianapolis (19%); Kansas City (22%).
  • The lowest expenditure is Clothing / Shoes on both sides of the ocean; Nice (6%); Philadelphia (4%); Indianapolis (5%); Kansas City (4%).
  • As far as lowest Transportation costs, Nice is only coming in 2nd with Kansas City as the winner.
  • In order to eat (combining Markets and Restaurants) Nice is the winner and Kansas City is the loser.  Clearly the cliché that most of my European colleagues tell me that it is more expensive here to eat out is a false one.
Cost of Living: INDIANAPOLIS

Cost of Living: INDIANAPOLIS

So what is my personal feeling?  Do I really feel poorer?  Well to answer that question, I really have to say give me a couple more years of data collection. 😉 This past year has been unique in that I have spent a lot money due to moving expenses.  Yes at the moment I feel my purchasing power is lower than when I was living in Philadelphia.  I have been cautious on my spending just because my nervous personality fears the unknown.  I loath the fact I have returned to car ownership and its related costs.  I agree with the above data that Utilities are expensive in France but my personal budget is still showing Rent as taking the biggest bite.  On the other hand I feel financially empowered by the affordable public transport and there are plenty of leisure things to do for free (the beach, street parties, fireworks, staring at the ocean from my terrace, etc.).  Let’s not forget I can explore several corners of Europe for little over 100 Euros – by plane.

Cost of Living: KANSAS CITY

Cost of Living: KANSAS CITY

The bottom-line is that I do have wirtschaftlichkeit and I am not drowning in debt unlike most people/governments.  For making such a drastic change in one’s life, I will wear my coat of pride.

If you really enjoy statistics such as these, I encourage you to participate in Numbeo.com.  The site is dependent on more and more people to enter data of their own budgets to better define the indexes.

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Categories: Everyday Life
  1. Anita Mills
    18 August 2011 at 11:47 am

    Feeling rich or poor is very much a state of mind! The numbers sort of work themselves out as long as you are living….and you my friend are LIVING!! Don’t stop you are an inspiration to us all. On a smart-ass note…how is it that people think the US is the center of the world when we have lost so much about our life that makes us humans? So many people in the US are simply controlled by mass media and drones for the greedy money grubbing corporations…..we are losing our soul and our culture in the name of chasing the dollar.

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