It’s official: Berlin is the cheapest city in the world

We quizzed residents of 53 cities – and Berliners were least likely to describe their home town as ‘expensive’

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Photograph: Tupungato /

These days, living in a city that isn’t expensive seems like a total luxury. Pretty much everywhere you go, people seem to complain about rising rents and costs. Apart, that is, a select few places. But where are they? Who are these lucky citizens? And how do we move there immediately

When we quizzed 20,000 city-dwellers as part of this year’s Time Out Index – on topics ranging from nightlife and museums to green spaces – we also asked them whether they’d describe their city as expensive. And, believe it or not, plenty of people actually didn’t.

According to this year’s Index, the cheapest city in the world is… Berlin! Of all those surveyed across 53 cities, Berliners were the least likely to describe their city as expensive. A whopping 90 percent of Berlin-based responses didn’t think their city was pricy.

Which, in many ways, makes sense. After all, with policies like its €9 monthly train pass and strict rent price controls, Berlin is far from as expensive as some other global capital cities (*cough* London and New York *cough*). The second-cheapest city according to this year’s Index was Glasgow and the third was Athens.

Before you ask, no, the Index isn’t based on economic data and stuff like that. It’s based purely on the opinions of those who take it. Berlin almost certainly isn’t the cheapest city in the world in terms of pricing and rents (and that’s before you even get into exchange rates). But it isn’t expensive in the minds of the vast majority of people who live there. And that’s got to count for something…

Elsewhere in the Index, however, Berlin didn’t do so well. Despite being praised for its variety of things to do, Berliners were also among the least likely to describe their city as ‘beautiful’ or ‘friendly’ and the most likely to call their fellow citizens ‘rude’. As they might say: man gewinnt einiges, man verliert einiges.

Now read our full list of the 53 best cities in the world in 2022.

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