Santiago de Chile leads the South American cities on our list

From the coastal Peruvian capital of Lima and Andes-framed Santiago de Chile to beachside Rio de Janeiro and the Pacific-straddling Panama City, our study analyzes the prices, earnings and purchasing power of seven cities across the South American continent.

We can begin our journey in Argentina, a country that boasts both the highest peak (Aconcagua mountain at almost 7,000 meters) and the lowest point (salt lake Laguna del Carbon at 105 meters below sea level) on the continent, and shows a similar range in our data. While Buenos Aires ranks rather high in terms of prices* (45 out of 77 worldwide), it drops much lower in earnings** (52 out of 77) to yield a result of #65 on our purchasing power list – the lowest of the South American cities we studied.

If you strap on your hiking boots and venture across the Andes to Chile, the picture looks different. Pricewise, the capital Santiago de Chile is 48 out of 77 globally (not far off from Buenos Aires), but workers here earn significantly more than their Argentinian neighbors. As a result, in the overall purchasing power ranking, Santiago de Chile climbs 26 spots above Argentina's capital and lands at #39 overall – the highest on the South American list.

How do the other five cities in the region fare? See our ranking from top to bottom:

Santiago de Chile

1/7South America ranking
39/77Global ranking

São Paulo

2/7South America ranking
40/77Global ranking

Rio de Janeiro

3/7South America ranking
46/77Global ranking

Panama City

4/7South America ranking
51/77Global ranking


5/7South America ranking
55/77Global ranking


6/7South America ranking
57/77Global ranking

Buenos Aires

7/7South America ranking
65/77Global ranking

*Price levels exclude rent.

**For this analysis, we are using net annual purchasing power for comparison, that is, we account for taxes/social contributions and working hours. All results are relative to our benchmark New York City.

Next Story
From Prague to Moscow, a ranking of 14 Eastern European cities
Read the story