Ranked 127 out of 131
As a gateway to the Himalaya Mountains, Kathmandu has a very outdoor-oriented culture. Not everyone is a Sherpa – but even office workers will often leave their desks to work outside in the sun. When not working, locals enjoy the always-growing restaurant scene or hanging out at the bars; by law, bars must close at midnight, so nightlife here gets started earlier.
Housing and basics contribute to Kathmandu’s affordability. Bread costs 36 Nepali rupees ($0.37 or £0.22) for two people, a full restaurant lunch costs about 385 rupees ($4 or £2.39) and a litre of gas costs 141 rupees ($1.50 or £0.89). At an average of 34,000 rupees ($300 or £215) a month, rent for a 85sqm house is particularly affordable.
Yet Kathmandu does not have a glut of high-rise apartment buildings, which is what often makes housing affordable in other regions. Instead, most residents live in single-family houses with more space and gardens. The older parts of the city, such as the districts of Thamel and Asan, have traditional architecture marked by detailed wood and stonework; newer areas like Kalamati have boxier, simpler homes. The wealthiest residents and foreigners tend to live in the new, gated communities popping up on the outskirts of the city and in the surrounding Kathmandu Valley.
The city caters to tourists and Western tastes, which can make it an expensive place to live for those who are not careful. “If you buy your food in the local market, eat out in local eateries and basically live like a Nepali, Kathmandu is very affordable,” said Zeljka Shah, who recently moved to the city from Croatia and writes The Roofs of Kathmandu blog. “On the other hand, if you like to treat yourself to the typical Western food bought in grocery stores, and eat in Western-type restaurants, it’s quite pricey.”