Numbeo helps you figure the cost of travel

The tool counts on crowdsourcing to report prices on restaurant meals, taxi rides, and numerous other expenses

Published: May 22, 2014 07:00 AM

If you're currently planning your summer vacation or thinking about traveling this fall, check out Numbeo. The site crowdsources cost-of-living data from locations all over the globe, from the price of a liter of water to a taxi fare to the bill on a midrange, three-course meal for two. Numbeo, which has been around since 2009, says it's gathered more than 1.2 million data points from more than 145,000 participants in more than 4,400 cities.

On a recent visit, I found that in Sydney, Australia, consumer prices—including rent—are 38 percent higher than in Philadephia. Numbeo reports that Anchorage is nearly 53 percent more expensive than Boise. And Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, is 74 percent cheaper than Brussels.  

Okay, perhaps these revelations don't strike you as hugely surprising, or maybe you're not planning a vacation just right now. Still, you might find Numbeo useful if you're thinking about relocating. The site includes a cost-of-living comparison calculator that lets you see the overall percentage difference in price between two cities in the denomination of your choice.

You also can see what your salary would buy if you lived in a different city. If you made $6,000 per month in Boston and lived in a rental you could get by, but you'd need another $928 per month to maintain the same standard of living in Paris. Getting granular, Numbeo reports that a meal for two at a midrange restaurant ($60 in Boston) would cost $68.50 in Paris. A $3.93 Beantown cappuccino would set you back $4.70 in the City of Light. A $1.45 .33-liter of water goes for $2.65 across the pond. But a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Paris would cost $1,545 per month, versus $1,920 in Boston. Numbeo indicates when the data were last updated, and how many people contributed the information. (You can be part of the crowdsourcing too, plugging in figures for where you live.) 

Check our advice for nabbing the best hotel deals and airline fares, including airline Ratings.

Keep in mind the caveats to this crowdsourcing. Nearly 300 people reported on the Paris cost-of-living data, and 185 people supplied the Boston numbers; that suggests that the comparison has some validity. But you can't hang your hat on data from just a few sources. For example, only five people had contributed information for Yonkers, N.Y., where Consumer Reports is situated. (I guess I better get on the stick and plug in my numbers.) 

Also, much is subjective. For instance, I couldn't find a definition of a midrange or inexpensive meal. And there could be wide disagreement as to what's considered the city center for rent estimates. 

But Numbeo is fun and enlightening. And it may give you some idea of how far your dollar will go when you're on the go. 

—Tobie Stanger

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