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 essential 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 plenty of restaurants offer 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 centrePKR 43,000
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centrePKR 26,150
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centrePKR 111,000
 Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centrePKR 75,000
Eggs (dozen)PKR 335
Milk (1 litre)PKR 239
Rice (1kg)PKR 353
Loaf of white breadPKR 193
Chicken breasts (1kg)PKR 990
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)PKR 500
Eating out
Big Mac MealPKR 1,200
Coca-Cola (330ml)PKR 84
CappuccinoPKR 456
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantPKR 4,500
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data PKR 1,230
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)PKR 4,400
Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)PKR 26,000
Taxi rate (per kilometre)PKR 120
Bus/train fare in the city centrePKR 50
Petrol/gasoline (per litre)PKR 281.37

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