The cost of living in Pakistan is extremely low. In Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2023, the capital city, Islamabad, was ranked 227th out of 227 cities. Compared to this, Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan and another popular expat city, was ranked 226th.
Pakistan is currently experiencing an economic crisis that has caused the price of basic goods to skyrocket. Nevertheless, expats earning lucrative salaries can still manage to live comfortably in the country.
Cost of accommodation in Pakistan
As is the case in most expat destinations, accommodation is likely to be the most significant expense expats face. Expats moving to major cities like Islamabad and Karachi will find various suitable housing options at different price points, depending on proximity to the city centre. The closer one lives to the centre, the pricier their rental costs will be.
Still, expats can find affordable housing anywhere in the country. Utilities are typically not included in the rental and will be an additional cost for expats. Pakistan faces frequent power outages, and some areas have water supply issues, so expats should also account for the cost of running generators and possibly securing alternative water supply.
Cost of groceries in Pakistan
Food is inexpensive in Pakistan. Groceries are cheap, and eating out – especially at local places – is also not a costly activity. There are plenty of markets selling local produce, though expats should be cautious about washing food items carefully to prevent getting sick from the water.
Some of the most popular shops for affordable groceries in Pakistan include Imtiaz Supermarket and Metro Cash and Carry. Expats who have some more room in their budgets can find high-quality groceries at Green Valley Hypermarket.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Pakistan
Eating out in Pakistan is an adventurous, flavourful and affordable experience. Pakistan’s culinary scene offers everything from local fusion cuisine to Italian and Chinese cuisine. The country also has a strong street food culture, meaning expats can get tasty portions at a low cost. Expats who prefer the finer things in life are not left behind, as there are plenty of restaurants offering fine dining experiences. Naturally, these cost slightly more.
Sport is a massive part of the country’s culture, and much of its entertainment centres around it. Expats can purchase tickets to cricket and soccer games at reasonable prices. Shopping is another favourite pastime in Pakistan, and expats will have fun haggling with traders at one of the country’s many colourful bazaars.
Cost of transport in Pakistan
While getting around in Pakistan is very cheap, expats should note that the public transport system lacks safety measures, and the roads can be quite dangerous. That said, bus and train fares are extremely affordable, and expats who choose to buy a car will be pleased to know that the cost of petrol is low too.
Cost of healthcare in Pakistan
Healthcare in Pakistan’s major cities is generally adequate, but is poor or non-existent in rural areas. Fortunately, most expats moving to Pakistan for work will have access to private healthcare. Most employers sponsor their employees’ health insurance, but expats who do not have this luxury should purchase comprehensive private medical insurance with medical evacuation provisions. The cost for this will vary depending on lifestyle habits and age.
Cost of education in Pakistan
Schooling is free (and compulsory) for all children aged 5 to 16. That said, expat parents will find that the standard of education at public schools is considerably lacking and therefore will likely send their child to one of the international schools located in Islamabad, Karachi or other main cities.
School fees for international schools can be pricey, and there may be additional costs for extras such as uniforms, stationery, extracurricular activities and school transport. While international schools are costly, their standard of teaching and facilities typically justify the cost.
Cost of living in Pakistan chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Islamabad for February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent in a good area)
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Big Mac Meal
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)
|Taxi rate (per kilometre)
|Bus/train fare in the city centre
|Petrol/gasoline (per litre)
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