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Big Macs, haircuts and five-star hotels; a study on prices around the world might surprise you

What a great study.
I mentioned on Twitter the other day how I found a study that compared the cost of club sandwiches and a mini-bottle of vodka at various hotels around the world. That was fun. But now comes a far more exhaustive study that looks around the world at everything from the cost of a Big Mac to the price of a man’s haircut, a standard beer, a cheap date and the cost of a five-star hotel room.

Is Sydney as expensive as a recent Deutsche Bank study suggests?

Is Sydney as expensive as a recent Deutsche Bank study suggests?


It’s useful information if you can believe all of it. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
In the interest of having some fun with this, let’s assume the study, which was done by Deutsche Bank, is accurate. Based on their findings, here are some cool bits that could help you decide where to travel….
1. A standard-sized beer will set you back a solid $7.60 (all figures US Dollars) in Paris. But just $1.82 in Johannesburg, South Africa and about the same in Manila. In Rio it’s just $2.46, plus you get to go people-watching at Ipanema Beach. Toronto and Ottawa? Try $5.54. Not bad. But not as cheap as southeast Asia or South Africa.
2. Drop your iPhone in the toilet and need a new one? That’ll cost you $650 in the U.S. and $663.50 in Canada. But it’ll set you back a whopping $1,254 in Brazil, thus eating away all that money you saved by flying to Rio for your beer-drinking weekend. On a side note, I guess this is why you see so many Brazilians flocking to New York and Miami for shopping trips.
A Deutsche Bank study suggests Toronto isn't as expensive as some Canadians might think.

A Deutsche Bank study suggests Toronto isn’t as expensive as some Canadians might think.


3. Need a haircut? For men (sorry, no figures for women available) a cut in an expat area of town will set you back $16.60 in Toronto and $17.40 in Ottawa compared to $2.40 in New Delhi, $29 in San Francisco (more than New York’s $20 figure) and a crazy-high $49.80 in Zurich. On the plus side, your Swiss barber will give you all the fondue you can eat and dispense free banking advice.
4. Looking for a weekend getaway? That’ll set you back $775 if you’re leaving Toronto, but a seemingly far-too-high $2,164 in Sydney, Deutshe Bank reported. For New York, the cost is about $1,180. But for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia it’s just $480.
5. How about a five-star hotel? The bank suggests that will set you back a mind-blowing $880.40 in Sydney, compared to just $273 in Melbourne, $189 in Montreal, $204.80 in Toronto, $608.20 in London, $379 in New York City and only $77.50 in Kuala Lumpur. That’s about one-fifth of what they suggested for New York.
6. Hungry for a Big Mac? That will cost you $4.64 in Canada, $4.79 in the U.S. and $7.54 in Switzerland. But just $1.20 in Ukraine. Mind you, there are other issues you might have to face on your way to the McDonald’s in Kiev. Just saying….
A tuk-tuk ride in New Delhi is a great, and cheap, way to get around. Far less expensive than most big city cabs.

A tuk-tuk ride in New Delhi is a great, and cheap, way to get around. Far less expensive than most big city cabs.


Just for my own amusement, I put together a list of what it would cost in a half dozen world cities for a night at a five-star hotel, a man’s haircut, a beer and an 8 kilometer (five mile for you folks in the U.S.) cab ride. The result? Topping the list was Sydney at $926.54, followed by London at $656.07, New York at $424, Toronto at $242.76, New Delhi at $184.22 and Kuala Lumpur at just $98.80.
Now, far be it for me to criticize the folks at Deutsche Bank, but I think there is something amiss here. First of all, I think you can probably get a Big Mac in most parts of the U.S. for a lot less than $4.79. More importantly, I did some research this morning on five-star hotels and came up with wildly, and I do mean wildly, different numbers.
I picked a mid-week day in mid-May and looked at the price of a five-star hotel on Expedia.ca for several cities. For Sydney, I found rooms at five-star properties for $178! That’s barely a quarter of what Deutsche Bank saidd it would cost. I don’t know about you, but if I worked for Sydney or Australia Tourism my shorts would be in a serious twist about that kind of discrepancy.
On the other hand I’d like to know what search engine Deutsche Bank used to find five-star hotels in some other cities. For Toronto, the bank saidd a room was just $204.80 a night. On Expedia.ca, my search found the cheapest rate was $274 (for the Shangri-La). For New York, Deutsche Bank said a five-star hotel costs $379. The cheapest I found was $496. For Kuala Lumpur, the German study suggested a five-star hotel could be booked for $77, while I found the cheapest was $123. Still a bargain compared to the rest of the world, but not as great a deal as Deutsche Bank suggested.
Still, I think if one ignores the Sydney hotel information there are some interesting points to be made. One is Canada isn’t as expensive as we Canadians probably think it is. There are lots of cheaper places, but a lot of spots far more expensive. Second, the study is further evidence of what I often tell folks about travel, which can be summed up in two words “South Asia.”
Kuala Lumpur might be the best bargain city on the planet, says a Deutsche Bank study.

Kuala Lumpur might be the best bargain city on the planet, says a Deutsche Bank study.


Yes it’s expensive to get there. But if you use the Deutsche Bank figures and my Expedia search as a rough guide, you can still find a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur for somewhere between $77 and $123 U.S. a night. The beer would be about the same as Canada, but a cab would be just $4.58 and a haircut $10,80.
In New Delhi, you’d pay just 3.40 for the beer, $2.40 for the haircut and a measly $2.92 for the cab (and probably less if you bargained with a tuk tuk driver).
Food – and drink – for thought.

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