Kolkata Tops Other Metros as the Most Affordable City in India

The time was May 2018 and Alok was racing to his examination centre for his final practical exams in RG Kar Medical College. The centre lied 7 km away from his PG accommodation where he used to pay Rs.1000/- per month and shared it with three other students. In his hurried leaving, Alok forgot to carry his wallet and was dependant on the miscellaneous cash in his pockets. But, he was positive that he could wing it because this was Kolkata after all!

The bus ride to the medical college cost him Rs.7/- and a substantial lunch of rice, lentils, and vegetables set him back by Rs.25/-. After his exams, he refreshed himself with a lassi for just Rs.10/- and then took the bus back home, with the change to spare from the 50-rupee-note he had in his pockets.

According to the Mercer’s Annual Cost of Living Survey 2018, Kolkata remains the least expensive among the Indian metros. But, what makes the City of Joy, the most affordable one too?


The public transport system is one of the strong points of the city of Kolkata and its suburbs. Commuting within the city is affordable with monthly passes in local buses starting from just Rs.500 per month. Add to it, the metro, local trains, trams, ferry service, taxi service, autos and cycle rickshaws that are widely accessible and cost effective too. According to the Ease of Moving Index 2018, Kolkata ranks as the most affordable and reasonable public transportation infrastructure and system with 80% commuters in agreement.


The city is one of the best food destinations with a mouth-watering culture of street food as well as a string of must-dine upmarket restaurants with a legacy of their own. In fact, street food at Kolkata is considered the best in India. Kolkata is famous for providing full stomach meals with staple diet items at Rs 25 per meal only. The ecological infrastructure of the city and the surrounding areas subsidises the cost of drinking water and food. The city profits from the production of over 11,000 tonne of fish and 55,000 tonne of vegetables annually right in the outskirts of the city. Also, huge saving on fuel and ice due to the proximity of vegetable and fish farms to markets in the city results in low prices of food items.


When compared to the other metros in the country, Kolkata is still in the early stages of commercial and industrial development with a large chunk of the population employed in the informal sector, which maintains pressure on the state government to keep the prices of goods and public utilities cheap. Thus, the economic price of goods and services, and labour is quite cheaper too.

Real Estate

The average property prices are the lowest in this city, with the average realty price at 2018 being Rs 4,405 per square feet. The lower land value leads to affordable property prices and rents too. A two bedroom flat in Kolkata’s major areas such as Baranagar, Sodepur, and Patuli is available at a starting price of Rs. 5,500 per month whereas in Mumbai it would cost you Rs 20,000 and in Delhi around Rs 12,000 per month.


Consumer goods and groceries are priced quite reasonably since Kolkata has some of the lowest prices. Therefore, if you are a single working man/woman living in Kolkata, with a standard monthly income of Rs 30,000 or a nuclear family with Rs. 50,000 income, you can sustain lifestyle spending with ease and without going overboard. The city offers various shopping centres and caters to every category of earner, as well as specializing in commodities such as Burrabazar and Bagri Market for wholesale, College Street for books, and New Market and Gariahat for just about everything.

Across rankings and surveys, Kolkata emerges as the most affordable city out of India’s major metros. The most important factors that contribute to the cost of living are food, home, and transportation. While it is one of the most populated ones, Kolkata has steadily expanded its boundaries thanks to a well-established public transportation system and upcoming suburbs. Kolkata’s indigenous production and proximity to the port makes items here quite cheaper than the rest of India. These factors together contribute towards making Kolkata truly the city of joy…for your pockets.

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