The best and worst places to shop in the world

Deutsche Bank’s 2015 'Mapping the World’s Prices' report gives a snapshot of costs on consumer goods and services around the world. One piece of advice: Don’t buy your iPhone in Brazil.

Paulo Whitaker/FOXCONN-BRAZIL/Reuters/File
An advertisement board displays an iPhone 6 at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo Dec. 16, 2014. Deutsche Bank's 2015 "Mapping the World's Prices" report, which looked at prices of consumer goods and services around the world, found that Brazil is the most expensive place to buy an iPhone today.

Looking for a budget holiday location? Forget Australia. Saving for a new iPhone? The United States will still get you the best bang for your buck.

For the fourth year running, Deutsche Bank’s “Mapping the World’s Prices” report compares purchasing power among countries, giving consumers the latest on the most expensive places to live, rent a car, go on a date, and attend business school. It also compares prices for goods and services, such as iPhones, movie tickets, haircuts, and health insurance.

Among the report’s key findings: Australia remains the most expensive country for goods and services, as has been the case since Deutsche Bank began tracking the data in 2012, while the US remains the cheapest developed country – though the gap between the two has narrowed with the recent strength of the US dollar.

Deutsche Bank AG
The cost of living in major cities

India is still the cheapest major economy for a range of products, while Brazil’s former stature as the priciest emerging market has slid down due to the depreciation of the real.

New York City, once among the world’s priciest places to live, no longer makes the top 10 list of most expensive cities, according to the report. Only Tokyo, London, Oslo, and Zurich had higher costs of living in 2001, but places like Geneva, Paris, and Singapore have since worked their way up the chart to oust the Big Apple.

On the other hand, Mumbai, India and Karachi, Pakistan have remained the cheapest places to live.

Shopping costs vary depending on what you’re looking to buy. A pair of Adidas sports shoes, for instance, will set you back $130 in France or Germany, but only $50 in Brazil. A pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, which cost anywhere between $44 to $63 in the US, go for more than $100 in Singapore, Paris, and Shanghai.

Hankering for a Big Mac isn't so bad in Ukraine or Russia, but you might want to rethink the decision to swing by a McDonald’s in Switzerland, where the sandwich costs more than $7.

The iPhone, whether it’s the 5s version or the 6, is still cheapest in the United States at $550 and $650 respectively. Don’t buy it in Brazil unless you want to pay nearly double.

The best value for an MBA? Germany. Fees for a full-time course at either Mannheim Business School or the European School of Management and Technology – both of which rank among the top 20 business schools in Europe, according to the Financial Times – are just over a third of those at Harvard. But salaries offered to graduates are about 80 to 85 percent of US levels, the report found.

For a cheap weekend getaway in the city, head to Kuala Lumpur: Two nights at a standard room in a five-star hotel, four meals, two snacks, four liters of soda, a two-day car rental, and a bit of shopping would cost less than $500 in the Malaysian capital, compared to more than $2,100 in Sydney, the most expensive place for a quick trip. (The same would cost just over $1,000 in Boston or Chicago.)

As for getting around, public transport is cheapest in India, with minimum fares for single rides in New Delhi and Mumbai costing less than 5 percent of that in New York City – which, at $2.75 a trip, is the third most expensive after Sydney and Melbourne. Renting a car or taking a taxi in India is similarly cheap.

Even if you’re not interested in commuting with the masses, your best bet is still Mumbai, where buying a car – specifically the new Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI 140 CV 6 vel. or its equivalent, with no extras – could go for as low as $11,300. That’s about a tenth of what the car would cost in Singapore.

Don’t plan on doing too much driving around Hong Kong, though: Gas goes for about $8 for a gallon.

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