The Earth Awaits is a tool for long-term travelers, students taking a gap year, retirees, and anyone else with an irrepressible wanderlust. We recognize that it's hard to figure out where you'd fit in abroad, and especially hard to figure out what it will cost to live there. The Earth Awaits takes a few simple inputs about your family size, housing needs, and lifestyle, and uses them to calculate a monthly budget tailored to you for more than 600 cities around the world. We'll also help you filter out cities that don't meet your needs for crime, pollution, and many other important attributes.
Way more importantly, once you find a city (or cities) that you're interested in, you can edit that budget to suit you perfectly, learn about the city and country, and begin to plan your big escape abroad.
The Earth Awaits uses up-to-date cost of living information to give accurate estimates for housing, food, and entertainment budgets in your new home. The data is crowdsourced from those who live or have lived in each city. The cost of living data is updated from Numbeo every night to keep all budget estimates as accurate as possible.
The Earth Awaits is also the home of the internet's first travel hacking search engine, a tool that helps those traveling on a budget find dozens of ways to redeem airline points to get from point A to point B. It shows you ways to use your transferable credit card points where applicable, too. We also track current credit card signup bonuses, and calculate the best card ways to acquire points and get you on your way fast (and hopefully free!).
The cost of living, pollution, and crime data is crowdsourced information from Numbeo. People just like you can submit, correct, and dispute each data point.
Factual data about each city and country is parsed from various sources such as Wikipedia, UN studies and reports, and other publicly-available databases.
Articles about cities (where they exist) are written by the staff of The Earth Awaits.
Airport data is from OurAirports, and flight route data is from OpenFlights. OurAirports' data is available under a public domain license, and the OpenFlights data is available under the Open Database License.
The Earth Awaits provides cost of living information for hundreds of cities around the globe. As you might expect, it can be a little difficult to compare cities which have different economies, political situations, and standards of living. Therefore, we calculate budgets by creating a "grab bag" of goods and services that the average westerner might seek out when establishing a home.
The basic elements of a comfortable lifestyle abroad boil down to four categories: Shelter, Food, Health, and Entertainment.
Shelter is a comfortable apartment in a safe area, utility services, and a broadband internet connection. Food costs are estimated by taking a representative cross section of basic grocery goods and multiplying the cost of those goods by the number of members of your household. You may not purchase all of (or even any of) these items, but by bundling a large number of common grocery items, we can somewhat accurately estimate what your monthly grocery bill will be.
Health is more than just the treatment of illnesses-- it's also prevention. The default budget includes a fitness club membership for each member of your household.
Entertainment is highly individual. To estimate a basic entertainment budget, a few cinema tickets, some dinners out, and public transport passes are included in the budget.
The reality is that everyone is an individual, and everyone's budget will vary, at least a little. The preceding methodology produces budgets for most locations that cross-reference closely with other sources for cost of living data such as expat blogs, articles, and forum postings.
There's one incredibly important caveat here: The budgets don't attempt to estimate medical emergencies, travel, or other extraordinary expenses. The Earth Awaits only aims to help you build an approximate budget for regular monthly expenses. Most people considering a move abroad should maintain reserves for unexpected expenses. We aren't responsible if you move abroad and your budget varies from the estimates here or you are unable to cover a major emergency cost!
Further, the budgets calculated are representative, not all-inclusive. That is to say, they overestimate quantities of some items, and use the lifestyle multiplier to add wiggle room, to form a realistic total budget. They don't attempt to include every possible thing you might need in the course of a month, because we simply don't have data for every possible purchase in every possible city.
The following items are included in the Housing budget.
The following items are included in the Food budget. The total grocery expense is then multiplied by the number of people in your household.
The following items are included in the Health and Entertainment budgets. The total other expense is then multiplied by the number of people in your household.
Lifestyle Multipliers: After the entire budget is calculated, it is multiplied by a number that helps to adjust the budget your your lifestyle expectations. We call this a "Lifestyle Multiplier." In some developing nations, an expat may need or want a comparatively opulent lifestyle, and The Earth Awaits will automatically apply a reasonable adjustment to help you find a city where you can live the lifestyle of your choosing within your budget.
The lifestyle multipliers are Very Lean (budget is 75% of calculated budget for your family size and housing needs), Lean (100%), Modest (125%), Ample (150%), and Opulent (175%).
You sure can! In your search results, click on the "Details" button for the city you are interested in. In the "Budget" tab for that city, you can change the quantities of line items and the lifestyle multipliers to suit your own tastes.
First off, that's not a question. More importantly, bear in mind that the cities returned by the search aren't recommendations-- they're places that match your filtering criteria, sorted in the order you selected (by default, quality of life, which is a weighted average of numerous indices like affordability, severity of traffic and pollution, quality of health care, and others).
They are the cities that, given your input budget and any other filters you apply (pollution, crime, etc.), you might want to explore further. Ultimately, whether you will love or hate a given city is a deeply personal insight that incorporates countless factors that are hard to track. The Earth Awaits just wants to give you a starting point to discover new places around the world, many of which you may never have considered, which may suit your needs. We focus on the quantifiable, and especially on the cost of living. If a city in your search results doesn't do anything for you, check out the next one!
We don't actually have crowdsourced data for two bedroom apartments, so we infer it by averaging the one and three bedroom prices for the location. It's likely that this number isn't as accurate as the other apartment prices, and we wanted to be sure you knew that.
We don't calculate walkability ourselves. We get it from Walk Score, who don't have full support for many countries and calculate some of them on the fly. Their API also requires that we pass in a specific address, latitude, and longitude. We use the coordinates of the city center. This may mean that a sprawling city is listed as more (or less) walkable than it might otherwise be.
The truth is that we simply cannot anticipate every possible individual's needs, nor can we reliably predict individual, unanticipated costs. If you are seriously considering moving abroad, please get the requisite health and travel coverage appropriate for your own medical conditions.
We strongly recommend carrying travel insurance when abroad. The budget tab of each city includes a budget item for insurance at the very bottom, as well as a link to get an affordable insurance quote for an policy aimed at expats. You can get a quote and the plug it into your own budget for a more complete picture.
The budgets calculated on this site use the best available information, a reasonable standard of living based on common preferences, and represent only the necessities to make life both livable and comfortable. It is quite easy to spend more and possible to spend less than the calculated budgets here. It is precisely because individual tastes and needs vary so much that this site allows you to edit the budgets to suit your own needs.
We strongly recommend carrying travel insurance any time you're abroad. EHealthInsurance has very affordable international health insurance plans from a huge variety of providers (Select More->International Health Insurance). They're a great place to comparison shop.
World Nomads is an ideal option if you need emergency medical coverage and repatriation in case of a major emergency.
By default, all prices are displayed in US Dollars. You can select from the other available currencies by clicking the gear icon in the top right of the menu. More currencies are coming, but they require greater testing and layout changes, so it will be a few weeks.
Yes! We call a list of budget line items a "lifestyle" (as opposed to a budget) because the budget is the amount you spend, and the lifestyle is the amount of stuff you consume.
Create an account, then add a new lifestyle from the "Lifestyles" page in your account profile. Free users can create a single custom lifestyle, while subscribers may create as many as they like.
Yes. The source of our data includes cost of living information for thousands of cities, and including all of it would make the site a little unwieldy. Reach out to us and we'll see about adding a city you're interested in.
Though travel and expat life are our personal passion, the data licenses and servers required to run this site are quite expensive.
One way we make money is through our affiliate links, which appear in the search results (every ninth tile). If you see a service that interests you, please click through from here and sign up for the service, which will support the site.
We offer lots of additional features to our paid subscribers, like enhanced basic functionality, travel safety alerts, international school information, historical pricing data, and much more. We're trying to bring tons of unique and valuable functionality to our subscribers that we think you'll love. If you're not sure you want to be a long-term subscriber, that's ok. You can cancel your subscription at any time and you'll still have access to all premium features until the paid term ends.
Finally, we have built the only travel hacking search engine on the Internet for use by all visitors. You can input your home airport and the airport you want to visit, and we'll calculate all the different ways (that we know about) you can redeem airline points to get there. We'll also figure out what credit cards are currently offering signup bonuses to get you the points you need as quickly as possible. When your travel and the current credit card bonuses match, we'll show you a list (in order from lowest to highest spending needed) of the cards that fit the bill. We'd be extremely grateful if you applied for your credit cards by clicking one of our links. It's the best way we have for our free users to support the site in a major way.
The site can do a ton more for you if you create an account. All the lifestyles (Very Lean, Lean, Modest, and so on) are great general guidelines, but even this range doesn't capture the essence of who you are-- at least not completely.
Users with accounts can create custom lifestyles that reflect their exact lifestyle and purchasing patterns in a given month. Why not create lifestyles that represent a couple different levels of your spending so that you can experiment with all sorts of scenarios? Those lifestyles can be used when using the search too, and they can be shared with friends.
Users with accounts can also subscribe to changes in city budgets, track the changes of individual price items, and add cities to their favorites for later research.
If you want even more functionality, you can also become a subscriber. You'll pay a trivial monthly fee (cheapest when purchased annually) for all sorts of extra features like historical pricing data, international school information, and travel safety alerts and warnings delivered to your email. Free features are further enhanced and unlocked for subscribers.
In short: You get access to far more features than free users do, and we get to go on adding them for you. Here are a few examples:
Historical Pricing Information: We store the information for every budget line item in every city from the moment we add it and make it available as a beautiful chart. Want to see what a one-bedroom apartment cost in Barcelona two months ago? Easy. Want to see whether a city is becoming more or less expensive over time? No problem!
Travel Safety Alerts: We monitor critical traveler safety alerts, warnings, and advice from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canadian governments for every country in our database. We'll send you an email any time one of these governments issues or updates a travel advisory. This service alone makes The Earth Awaits a critical travel safety tool!
International School Data: One of the most commonly-requested features when The Earth Awaits first went live was for school information for all of our cities. After a massive research effort that included contacting over 500 international schools, we've assembled an unrivaled database of private and public educational institutions catering to expat parents. You'll have access to current, verified tuition data, certifications, academic program info, and much more. We will re-verify all school data annually to ensure that it stays as current as possible.
Enhanced Existing Features: As far as non-subscriber features go, free users can only watch a few data points and create one custom lifestyle. Subscribers can create hundreds. You can track safety and price information for every city in a country, if you like. Receive safety updates for entire continents. Track the prices and safety alerts for every city you love.
Early Access to New Features: Most features in the future will be subscriber-only. Even features that will eventually end up free features will begin as premium-only features. By becoming a subscriber, you'll get to play with all the shiny new features as soon as they're released!
A site like The Earth Awaits is costly to run, and adding premium features that require extensive manual research means the site must make money in order to continue adding new features, and maintaining existing ones. Become a subscriber today and enjoy all the additional features, functionality, and fun!
We've reached out to nearly 1,000 international schools around the world and gathered contact (address, web site, email), academic program (curriculum and certifications like AP, International Baccalaureate, and others), school levels offered, and much more.
We also gather tuition information whenever possible, and whenever the institution is willing to share it. We personally contact each and every school and ask them to confirm our research data, then incorporate any changes they ask us to make.
In short, we spend quite a bit of time finding the best private institutions in each city and getting your most important questions answered. Subscribers have access to all of this information, live filtering by school level, and a map view of all of our schools in each city (up to a radius of 50km)
This site was created by The Frugal Vagabond, a personal finance blogger with a passion for world travel. The most popular series of articles on The Frugal Vagabond is the Retire Abroad series, which explores a collection of affordable retirement destinations abroad. The Frugal Vagabond wrote his articles about retiring abroad because he and his wife plan to slow travel the world in early retirement, and our modest (but growing) savings is slowly opening up a whole world of adventure to us. We strongly believe that many travelers and retirees can live a safe, adventurous, fulfilling life abroad-- often with amenities that they could only dream of back home.
We were frustrated with the fact that articles online that detail costs of living abroad are out of date nearly as quickly as they are written, and we started working on a solution for all the other dreamers like us. The Earth Awaits is the result.
Yes! See our advertising page for more details.
The data licenses, servers, and considerable time and expertise involved in running a site of this nature mean that we are willing to consider sponsorship of the site as a whole (marquee sponsorship), ad placement in the details for a specific city or set of cities, and affiliate linking.
However, your product or service must fit with the general theme of the site (travel, life abroad, retirement, and similar topics) and must not be exploitative. Our ideal partners sell products and services which align with the best interests of users of the site. You're welcome to contact us to discuss a partnership.