As Pakistani cities quickly evolve into some of the most cosmopolitan destinations in the world, it’s no surprise that more and more expats are moving to the country. It offers incredible scenery, fine dining, culture, and world-class cricket matches.
In the not so distant past, many would have been surprised at the use of words like sophisticated, erudite, and cultured to describe the middle eastern country. But today’s Pakistan is constantly shifting towards a somewhat westernized, highly luxurious state of being.
That said, a luxurious lifestyle normally comes with a luxurious price tag: when headed to Pakistan, one of the most important things to consider is the cost of living. Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Pakistan for good, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how your finances will look after you take the plunge.
While Pakistan is largely less expensive than most European and North American countries, one of the most important things to consider when it comes to transferring your money is the exchange rate. While your bank may do this conversion for you, and there are many exchange services out there, it’s common practice to mark up the exchange rate in order for the business to make a profit.
As such, you should always use an online currency converter to see how much money you should be getting before you make the exchange. If you want to be extra safe, you can use TransferWise to ensure you’re getting the same fair rate you find on Google while also cutting back on transfer fees.
Once you’ve exchanged your funds, you’ll have a bank account full of Pakistani Rupees. Money in Pakistan is often abbreviated as PKR, or is denoted with the sign ₨. To give you a better idea of the approximate value of rupees compared to a few major currencies, at the time of writing rupees are worth:
- $1000 = ₨ 100,000
- £1000 = ₨ 135,000
- €1000 = ₨ 120,000
- A$1000 = ₨ 80,000
|Comparing Basic Cost of Living||1 Bedroom Flat in City Centre (monthly rent)||Meal for 2 (Mid-Range Restaurant, 3 course)||Transportation (Monthly Pass)|
|Karachi, Pakistan||₨ 22,882.35||₨ 1,000.00||₨ 1,000.00|
|Lahore, Pakistan||₨ 16,562.50||₨ 1,700.00||₨ 600.00|
|London, UK||₨ 230,869.33||₨ 7,553.22||₨ 18,127.73|
|New York City, USA||₨ 317,394.14||₨ 7,904.32||₨ 12,646.91|
|Berlin, Germany||₨ 91,222.43||₨ 4,863.93||₨ 9,849.46|
|Sydney, Australia||₨ 219,050.28||₨ 6,681.24||₨ 13,362.48|
The range of cost of living in Pakistan is pretty wide, though many expats choose to settle in more populous, urban areas. The five most expensive cities to live in in Pakistan include:
|Total Living Expenses in Islamabad||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||₨ 41,031.83|
|1 person, per year (without rent)||₨ 516,372.00|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||₨ 141,304.44|
|4 person family, per year (without rent)||₨ 1,695,653.28|
|Total Living Expenses in Karachi||Average cost|
|1 person, per month||₨ 35,224.45|
|1 person, per year||₨ 422,693.40|
|4 person family, per month||₨ 119,927.81|
|4 person family, per year||₨ 1,439,133.72|
Now that you have an understanding of the costs in Pakistan, it’s a good idea to look at what you might make at your job. While the cost of living is pretty low, you may find you’re taking a pay cut from what you'd make in the same position at home. While this can seem jarring, it’s not uncommon for expats to make much less than they used to while living just as (if not more) comfortably.
|Salary Averages for Islamabad||Average Salary|
|financial analyst||₨ 1,870,002|
|graphic designer||₨ 1,349,994|
|web developer||₨ 1,929,390|
|product manager||₨ 1,174,265|
|software engineer||₨ 1,968,496|
|Salary Averages for Karachi||Average Salary|
|financial analyst||₨ 1,744,217|
|graphic designer||₨ 1,349,994|
|web developer||₨ 1,799,610|
|product manager||₨ 1,095,278|
|software engineer||₨ 1,836,086|
|web developer||₨ 1,799,610|
One of the biggest expenses you’ll face living in any country is rent, and Pakistan is no exception. All in all, rent in Islamabad or Karachi is cheap compared to London or San Francisco, but it’s still important to understand the cost associated with renting an apartment, as laid out in the following tables.
|Renting in Islamabad||Average Monthly Cost|
|1 bedroom||₨ 25,000.00|
|3 bedroom||₨ 59,642.86|
|Renting in Karachi||Average Monthly Cost|
|1 bedroom||₨ 22,882.35|
|3 bedroom||₨ 48,333.33|
|Renting in Lahore||Average Monthly Cost|
|1 bedroom||₨ 15,562.50|
|3 bedroom||₨ 37,941.18|
The healthcare system in Pakistan is privatized, meaning each individual is required to purchase their own insurance and pay any other medical costs out of pocket. These costs are sometimes mitigated by your employer, but depending on your position or industry you may still need to pay for your own healthcare. The following table will give you an idea of healthcare costs in Pakistan.
|Healthcare Service||Average Cost to You|
|monthly health insurance for 1 person||Anywhere from ₨ 4,945 to ₨ 156,245, depending on level of insurance, deductible, and add-ons (like dental and vision).|
|labor and delivery (no insurance)||₨ 5,278|
|family doctor check-up (no insurance)||₨ 500|
In Pakistan it’s fairly common to use public transport to get around, especially in big cities. That being said, driving is typically favored for its speed, despite the relatively higher cost. The following table outlines the average transportation costs in Pakistan.
|Transportation and vehicle prices for Pakistan||Average Cost|
|gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)||₨ 68|
|monthly bus/transport pass||₨ 900|
|bus ticket, single use||₨ 20|
|taxi tariff, 30 minutes||₨ 100|
|Toyota Corolla, new||₨ 1,894,590|
|VW Golf, new||₨ 1,500,000|
Like most countries, Pakistan has a free public education system for students under age 18. While most families choose to partake in that system, extra costs like preschool or higher education might look like the following:
|School in Pakistan||Average yearly cost|
|preschool / kindergarten||₨ 20,086|
|private school for lower grades||₨ 309,758|
|Quaid-i-Azam University tuition||₨ 95,690|
|University of the Punjab tuition||₨ 105,205|
All in all, living in Pakistan can be seriously affordable, for a great quality of life. Prices in Pakistan are pretty low, but if you’re looking for brand names from back home or luxury items, be prepared to pay a premium. Otherwise, things like food, transport, and rent in Pakistan are all reasonably priced, and you’re sure to enjoy life there.