“Mumbai, Delhi among world's cheapest cities to live,” said a headline in the Economic Times.
If you live in Mumbai or Delhi, you were stunned by the headline. However, it’s true, so read on.
“Financial capitals of India and Pakistan -Mumbai and Karachi - were the cheapest cities in the world to live followed by New Delhi, according to a new survey… the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) worldwide cost of living index found…The EIU found that Mumbai shared the top ranking with Karachi in the survey based on costs of over 160 items ranging from transport, utilities, food and clothing,” said the story.
“Mumbai, Delhi among world's cheapest cities: Economist Intelligence Unit,” said the Indian Express headline, with the copy virtually parroting the Economic Times story.
Readers were incredulous, it seems.
Mumbai, cheapest city. Now that's a joke if I have ever heard one.
— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) February 6, 2013
Read this early morning and fell off my chair. If Mumbai is the cheapest city, then I am Roger Federer's doppelgänger: http://t.co/C8fxdWf9
— Sachin Kalbag (@SachinKalbag) February 6, 2013
Mumbai, the cheapest city in the world? Where was the survey even conducted??
— Anchita Bhagwat (@ancheeeee) February 6, 2013
Mumbai is the cheapest city? That does it. I'm applying for below poverty line card.
— Kiran Manral (@KiranManral) February 6, 2013
What the ET and the IE seem to have missed are the qualifying statements that the EIU makes. Interestingly, the table accompanying the ET story, unlike the story itself, takes note of the qualifying statements.
Here’s the table from the ET story (article continues below):
Tucked away in the details is the all-important note: “The index measures the cost of an expatriate lifestyle in over 131 cities using a weighted average of the prices of 160 products and services.” The emphasis is Firstpost’s.
“The Worldwide Cost of Living survey enables human resources line managers and expatriate executives to compare the cost of living in 140 cities in 93 countries and calculate fair compensation policies for relocating employees.” the Economist Intelligence Unit explains.
Now it’s clear. Mumbai and Delhi are among the two cheapest cities in the world when measuring the cost of an expatriate lifestyle.
It’s not the cheapest for you and me, sadly.