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User:DenisYurkin/What things cost

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Prices of almost everyting vary hugely from place to place, and some vary over time as well. This article attempts to summarise the major differences and give a few links for more information.

Exchange rates affect costs. One site for checking them is XE. See Money for more on this.

Cheaper countries[edit]

The biggest difference is that things are cheaper in poor countries, as long as you can accept the local stuff. A basic hotel room in Back-of-beyond-istan might be a fraction of the cost of one in a developed country. As for food, whatever the locals eat will be cheap. However, if you want a five star hotel and Western food, expect to pay for them; they may even cost more in B-o-b-istan than at home.

To get a very general idea of costs in a country, look at statistics for annual income and per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product). One site with such data is World Bank. Another UN site gives various measures of the extent to which countries could be described as "developed".

Surveys comparing costs of living in major cities around the world are available from the UN, Mercer Human Resource Consultants and, for a fee, from The Economist. These are aimed at employees of multinational organisations, not the backpacker type of traveller.

A comparison of Quality of Life in various places is available from Mercer and there are LivCom Awards for the most livable communities. Many other sources have similar information, but access requires membership and fees.

See also Tips for travel in developing countries.

Cameras, electronics, et cetera[edit]

Prices on brand name consumer goods can vary considerably from country to country. Duties and taxes may be quite different, different distributors may have different mark-ups, and the company may charge whatever the market will bear. A Business Week article gives a comparison for several items. Another well-known comparison is The Economists' Big Mac Index.

In some countries, bogus brand named goods are common. See China#Bogus_goods for one example.

Some countries are free ports, with no import duties. The classic examples are Hong Kong and Singapore. Often goods such as cameras and electronics can be significantly cheaper in these placs than elsewhere. There are, however, potential problems. Hordes of bargain-hunting tourists, many on a schedule that does not give time for careful shopping, attract predators ranging from annoying touts to outright scammers.

Even buying from a legitimate shop, you have to be careful about warranty. Say you save a bit picking up a high-end camera in Singapore, then find a problem with it after geting home. If it has a Singapore-only warranty, what can you do? Pay for the service at home? Pay shipping and insurance, both ways, to and from Singapore? Call it wunderbrick, lay it on its back and plant flowers in the lens mount? Any of those might cost more than you saved in the first place.