If you’ve ever dreamed of living in one of the world’s busiest, exciting or culturally engaging cities, you might also have formulated an idea about what kind of place you’d like to live in: perhaps an apartment that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or a luxurious pad in one of the most exciting districts in Tokyo.
Unfortunately, your dreams and your budget might not exactly match the reality of rent in all of these cities. Factors such as cost of living in different countries, the country’s economic conditions, a shortage of space or shortage of apartments and inflated housing markets all contribute to the fact that rent prices in various cities in the world can wildly vary.
Interestingly, some economically significant cities such as Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Dubai and St. Petersburg can offer comfortably-sized apartments for those who are on a reasonable budget of $1,500 a month. Other cities, such as London, New York and Vancouver will most likely require those on the same budget to get a roommate, live in a small space or commute from well outside of the city center.
After searching for apartments for rent in various cities around the world, we were able to get an idea of what a $1,500 a month budget for rent will buy in some of the world’s most exciting and economically important cities.
10 Tokyo, Japan
If you want to live in the middle of it all, the upscale area of Ginza, a district in Tokyo, is one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world, home to upscale fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Gucci. And it is possible to live in the area if you have a budget of $1,500 rent. For 139,000 Yen a month – just shy of the 1,500 budget, you can dwell in an unfurnished 30 – yes, 30 – square meter apartment. The shockingly small space in a 12 story building includes 24 hour security, a tiny bathroom and kitchen, and air conditioning, among other comforts. This apartment actually looked a bit like a steal, as other apartments in the city’s prestigious areas easily have less square footage at a higher price (we noticed another studio apartment near by going for around $1,600 US and was only 20 meters square).
9 Paris, France
Living in the mythical city is, unsurprisingly, quite expensive. But it’s not impossible to find a comfortable, centrally-located and charming apartment on a budget of $1,500 – if you don’t mind living in a small space, that is. A fully renovated first-floor apartment with exposed beams and a beautiful walk in shower in the central Tuileries/Opera area of the city, complete with dishwasher, oven refrigerator, a courtyard view and even television and internet included, could be yours for $1,500. The only catch? It’s 28 square meters. You could also travel just a little bit outside of the central part of Paris and find a vaguely larger 32 square meter studio apartment, fully furnished on the 4th floor of an antique building that includes a (tiny) separate kitchen and bath.
8 Shanghai, China
One of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities, as well as a global financial center, Shanghai offers modern comforts and a lively city environment. To live in the middle of it all, an average-size apartment on the bustling street of Nanjing will typically cost more than a $1,500 budget will allow. However, it is possible to find a 1 bedroom apartment that is 55 meters square and has stylish and traditional-looking wood details for around USD $1,100 before fees. If you don’t mind living a little ways out of the city center in a less sophisticated, though still central, district, a two bedroom apartment with a little more space can be rented for around $1,500.
7 London, United Kingdom
On $1,500 per month, don’t expect to live too close to the center of London unless you sublet a room in an apartment for a shorter amount of time. Otherwise, plan on having quite a hike to the historical and culturally significant city center. We found a modern one bedroom apartment overlooking the Thames that fit the budget, though it would require a 45 minute commute by train to get to the city center. Another option that also fit the budget was a long ways from town, an approximately 40 minute commute, but at least it was located in a charming historical building.
6 St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is a gorgeous city filled with history and art. A decent sized apartment in the historic center with, shall we say, some retro charm can be enjoyed for $1,500 a month: we saw one apartment listed for this price with two bedrooms, an office and living room located near the historic center of the city. Another apartment with more modern, Western-style renovations and two bedrooms, yet still very central to the charming historical center, also fit the budget.
5 New York City area, United States
New York is notoriously expensive, though with a budget of $1,500 a month it’s possible to be comfortable especially if you are willing to commute from well outside of Manhattan. You could snag a 182 square meter studio loft with hardwood floors and a garage in Brooklyn with this budget (plus a broker’s fee). If someone doesn’t mind living in Harlem, it is possible to find a decent-sized 1 bedroom for a little over budget at $1650. But if commuting isn’t your thing and you need to be closer to it all in Manhattan, good luck finding something for only $1500 a month. For just a little over budget at $1685, we spotted a newly renovated ground studio apartment with a tiny kitchen and bath in the Upper East Side.
4 Sao Paulo, Brazil
South America’s largest city is also a metropolis with South America’s largest economy by GDP in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere. Needless to say, the sprawling city is also one of the largest in the world. It is a South American hub of business and economy, as well as a center of politics, culture, fashion, sports and nightlife. Rent for a basic, modern apartment in one of this busy city’s safer areas is reasonable, with many one or two bedroom apartments plus maid’s quarters and a balcony easily fitting the budget of $1,500.
3 Vancouver, Canada
Canada’s third largest city has a real estate market that is not easy on the wallet. On a $1,500 per month budget a commute is necessary if you don’t want to share an apartment with a roommate (or three). In Richmond, well outside of the city center, you can find a cozy two bedroom apartment for $1,150. Another option, also well outside of the city center, is a two bedroom basement suite for $1,050 that can reach the city center by public transportation. If renting outside of downtown is simply not an option, for a little over budget, $1,695, we saw that it was possible to snag a 180 square meter studio apartment closer to the city center.
2 Mexico City, Mexico
One of the largest cities in the world – and the largest Spanish-speaking city – Mexico City is also one of the richest metropolitan areas in the world. Yet, apartments are still quite affordable in this megacity. A charming, luxurious and colorfully decorated 110 square meter apartment in Mexico city including 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, parking, rooftop garden and a balcony was discovered for the price of $1500 per month. It’s actually possible to live quite comfortably on a much lower budget than this: we spotted a smaller, yet nicely updated and modern apartment with 2 bedrooms, a balcony and patio for only $550 per month.
1 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This rapidly growing city on the Persian Gulf has become a significant hub for business and culture in the Middle East. Dubai famously has some ambitious and luxurious housing developments including man-made islands and luxurious skyscrapers that probably aren’t accessible to those with a strict budget. However, on $1,500 per month, it is possible to find a new and modern one bedroom apartment with a private terrace and a closed kitchen that is a decent size (350 square meters) in a new building with security, parking and a shared pool. It might not be your own island, but it’s certainly still comfortable enough.