The survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs, for the most and least expensive cities around the world. While Singapore is the most expensive city to live in, Chennai found itself sixth in terms of the world’s cheapest cities, flanked by Bengaluru (3rd place), Mumbai (7th place) and New Delhi (10th place).
Shreeya Jayaram (35), a Mumbaikar, prefers living in Chennai. Having lived in Bengaluru for two years, she feels that the quality of living in Chennai beats the other metros. “Rent-wise, Bengaluru is cheaper than Chennai. Chennai has fewer options for recreation. In terms of domestic help, I found that the services are way cheaper in Chennai than any other city. In terms of living in a city with a decent standard of living, Chennai is the place to be. You can save and have a good life,” said the senior manager at TAKE Solutions.
As for food and recreation scene, Bengaluru scores over Chennai, as there is a plethora of variety at a low cost. Arul Selvam, a 28-year-old software engineer working in Chennai, lived in Bengaluru for three years. “Bengaluru has many options for a cheap price. Per day, I used to spend anywhere around Rs 150 to 200 in Bengaluru. But in Chennai, I am spending more than Rs 200 per day, surviving on food from smaller restaurants,” he said.
Public transport: City-based restauranteur Nikhil Moturi, who also runs a food truck, said that the city is only now opening to various options. “Delhi has better pub-hopping scene. Here, you can get a full meal between Rs 70 to 100 while mid-range restaurants cost around Rs 400,” he said. Chennai scored high on public transport services. Ramachandran Sriram, a business analyst at a top MNC in Ben galuru, studied in Chennai for four years. “Chennai is probably the cheapest metro and very cost-effective. You can cover the breadth of the city with a Rs 10 local train ticket,” said Ramachandran.
The reason behind the cheap public transport is the petroleum price here, said Shanmugam KR, Former Director Madras School of Economics. “Until recently, the petroleum prices in Chennai were lower than that of the rest of the country. This translated to cheaper bus fares, when compared to other states,” said the expert.
Real estate rentals, on the other hand, are steep, said, Sunil Saini, Data Scientist at The Data Team. “My wife and I have been living in Chennai for over three years now. If I had to compare the two cities, I would say that rents are cheaper in New Delhi. A nice is 2BHK in South Delhi is often cheaper than a 1BHK in South Chennai,” he said.
Sanjay Chugh, founder Skylines Property Consultant conceded that rentals in Chennai is slightly higher than that of Bengaluru. “Chennai has grown into a large city. But the capital cost in Chennai is higher, which is why rentals are steep. Land in Chennai is more expensive than in Bengaluru,” he said.
Bengaluru best: Chennai is also known for its quality education institutions but Bengaluru’s multi-cultural exposure has enticed many parents. Shankar Natarajan, who works at an IT company in Chennai, travels to Bengaluru every weekend, where his wife and two sons are based. “My sons are 10 and 9 respectively. Since Bengaluru is a multi-cultural city, with people from all parts of the country, my sons speak English and Hindi, apart from Kannada, which is in the school curriculum. In Chennai, we fear they won’t get a similar exposure. My eldest son plays football, apart from learning karate and skating as extra-curricular activities in school, while my youngest son is playing basketball. The exposure to various languages and cultures is the reason why I’ve chosen to travel home every weekend,” he concluded.