Affordability in Different Countries: A Look at Rent Indices


One thing that fascinates many geographers and outsiders alike is how different countries’ styles of living vary from country to country. A simple and enlightening way we can delve deeper into the comparison of living in various countries is to look at several indices that can be very helpful in pinpointing the economic strengths and weakness in any country. One example of such an index is a rent index.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

According to the Financial Times, a rent index is “a measure of the level of rents for dwellings in a geographic area over time.” Knowing a rent index helps people understand how much they would have to spend to rent land in a country or a city for a period a time. In many cases, rent index is calculated with respect to a certain city or country. In the case of the Numbeo API, where I collected data showing rent indices of different cities, the rent indices of all cities were based on the cost of living in New York City. For example, if a city had a rate index of 80, one could estimate rent prices in this city would be roughly 20% lower than the rent prices of New York City.

The below data set shows the rate indices of some US cities as well as those of some cities in Argentina. While the rent indices of some of the US cities are over 100 (meaning that rent prices in those cities are even higher than the rent prices in New York City), the rent indices of all of the cities in Argentina are well under 20, on average between 5 and 10. In other words, the cost to rent in these cities can be over 90% less than the cost to rent in New York City.

San Francisco, California

What could be the cause of such a discrepancy? Argentina’s economy level is the second highest in South America. Yet, it is experiencing high inflation. While Argentine president Mauricio Macri has promised zero poverty, he has not been successful in lowering the rapid inflation of the peso, resulting in the creation of poorer people. Over time, the peso’s value depreciated by over 7%, driving prices down even more than before.

Sometimes we take for granted the luxuries we have in our country, while we fail to see the struggles faced by those in other nations in the world today, such as Argentina. From the study of rent indices comes a greater awareness of the world around us: how can we make a difference to those around us who are in need?


and the embedded trinket code and data below.

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  1. April 28, 2019 by Bonnie Smith

    Interesting and useful. Proud of your meticulous work, Joseph.

  2. April 28, 2019 by Samiha.Datta

    This was an interesting article, Joseph! I like how you tied rent in with inflation and how you addressed rent as an indicator of a country’s wellbeing.

  3. April 28, 2019 by Eva Batelaan

    Very interesting article and well written, Joseph! I appreciated you explanation and analysis of the rent index and how you tied it to the topic of inflation and the larger significance/ global context.

  4. April 29, 2019 by Annie Ma

    This was very interesting! It’s cool that you compared the rates between Argentina and the US – was there any particular reason why you chose Argentina?

    • April 29, 2019 by Joseph.Wang

      I knew that Argentina was a country experiencing a lot of economic turmoil, and that overall indices between cities in Argentina and cities in the US would be extremely different. Just wanted to highlight that difference. Hope that answers your question!

  5. April 29, 2019 by Haley

    It’s interesting to see the comparison between the US and Argentine qualitatively based on politics and quantitatively based on rent and economics.

  6. April 30, 2019 by Nikhil

    Very interesting! One tip might be to put your data on the page.

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