When living in Bolivia, you won’t find a big gap between major cities in the country regarding their costs of living. The main cities, La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz, will have a maximum range of variation of about 30% in their prices of goods, services, and general cost of living. But if you also take into account towns or other smaller cities, then this difference will be greater.
The 2 cheapest cities in Bolivia are La Paz and Oruro. Next, with prices 10% higher are Cochabamba, Sucre, and Potosí, after them, with prices 20% higher are Santa Cruz and Tarija. Finally, with prices 30% higher are Trinidad and Cobija. The cost of living in Bolivia varies ~30% among different cities.
We are real estate and business experts from Bolivia (you can see our Bolivian real estate website), who have lived all their lives here. In the following lines, we’ll give you all the grained details about the real differences in the cost of living and prices of goods among the main cities of our country, and also about the cheapest cities available to live here.
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The cost of living in Bolivia can vary up to 30% between different cities
When living in Bolivia, you’ll find that all the major cities in the country have very similar prices for goods and services and that the cost of living between two different cities is not going to gap beyond 30%.
You’ll notice that cities that are very accessible and have better climates and geography will have the least expensive prices, whereas cities that are very far from other urban areas and have very hot climates or tough geography will have the most expensive prices.
Cost of living in different cities of Bolivia
Next, we’ll show you the difference in price percentages (%) among the most important nine cities of Bolivia, and the capitals of each department of the country.
The cheapest cities in Bolivia are:
- La Paz
From these, other cities go up to 10% in prices, having a cost of living 10% more expensive, these other cities are:
Even more, other cities will have an average of 20% higher prices than the first 2 mentioned cities, these other cities are:
- Santa Cruz
Finally, other cities that are too far away from anywhere else and located in tropical climates with very difficult access, will have the highest prices and cost of living in Bolivia, up to 30% higher:
Notice that Cochabamba, Sucre, and Potosí, have a cost of living very similar to the average of Bolivia. So, La Paz and Oruro cities are indeed 10% cheaper (-10%) than the national average.
|City||% of overpricing||Avg. cost of living (1 ppl.)||Cost of living – upper-middle class Bolivian (1 ppl.)|
We have a detailed guide about how much it really costs to live in Bolivia, with all the details and numbers you need to know: The cost of living in Bolivia, a complete overview.
The 3 cheapest cities in Bolivia
1) La Paz
La Paz city has cheaper prices because it’s located in a strategic region near the frontier with Peru. Also, it’s very near to rural areas for food production in the north of La Paz department. Additionally, it’s near Oruro City, which is the imports gateway of Bolivia. La Paz also has a good geography that helps transport stuff and people and a good climate that doesn’t interfere with the delivery and maintenance of products and services.
Even though Oruro may have an even lower cost of living, we have placed La Paz in the 1st place because you’ll find a lot of expats currently living there. La Paz is a major city, the 2nd main urban area of Bolivia, which has over 1 million habitants, and in some places, it has the same standard of living as in the developed world.
Oruro City is the main gateway to Bolivia for imports and exports. In this place, you can find a lot of products that are sold at way cheaper prices than anywhere else in the country. Everything coming from the Pacific Ocean, and going by Peru and Chile, needs to pass Oruro first before entering the rest regions of Bolivia, that’s why everything is cheaper in this city.
Nevertheless, Oruro is a small city (with a population of around 300,000, where you won’t find almost any first-world foreigners living there). This city is well known for the Oruro carnival, but beyond this festival, living there may be very difficult for people from the first world, who are accustomed to high standards of living that this city can’t provide.
Cochabamba City is located in the central region of Bolivia, and it has average prices and costs of living compared to the rest of the country. This is because it’s neither too far nor very near to the frontiers of Bolivia, also being a large city with good geography and weather, which makes costs of goods’ transportation stay in the medium range.
This is a large city in Bolivia and the 4th most important in the country, where there are several hundreds of foreigners from first-tier countries currently living, In some places there are neighborhoods that have a similar standard of living as in developed countries.
|City||% of overpricing||e.g. 1 bottle of water||e.g. 1 call prepaid card|
We have a complete guide comparing the cost of living between Bolivia and the US, with all the details for different types of expenses: The cost of living in Bolivia vs USA, all the involved numbers.
The top 3 most expensive cities in Bolivia
This small city located in the frontier between Bolivia and Brazil is the most expensive one that you will find in our country, where prices of goods and services are on average 30% or 40% more costly than in La Paz and Oruro.
This is because Cobija is very inaccessible and it’s in the middle of the Amazonas jungle, having a very tropical climate, also being surrounded only just by wild rainforest and not having access to an efficient system of transportation, with bad roads and long trips to bring goods and products into the city.
We advise you against moving into Cobija, there you are not going to find any foreigners beyond Brazilians (actually many of them), and the standard of living is very poor compared with a developed country.
Trinidad City is another one that is located in the tropical region of Bolivia, in the middle of the Amazonas jungle. It’s a pretty inaccessible city with little population. To reach this city, you need to spend a lot on transportation and it’s the same for many goods and services needed there. Because of this and also because of its climate, Trinidad has a lot of overpriced goods and services.
We don’t recommend you to move into this city. Similarly to Cobija, it doesn’t offer a good standard of living, and as you can see, it has overpriced goods and services by up to 30%.
C) Santa Cruz De La Sierra
Santa Cruz city is the most important city in Bolivia. It’s also the first choice for expats from developed countries moving to the country. But this city is a little bit overpriced when compared to La Paz or Oruro cities. Prices of goods and services there can be up to 20% higher than in those other cities and 10% higher than the national average.
This city has a higher cost of living because of its location, which is far away to import areas and frontiers, also its tropical weather, its size, with a population of nearly 2 million habitants, and its transportation system of goods and services, which is more complex than elsewhere. This is why Santa Cruz has a little bit of overpricing in its cost of living.
Nevertheless, we encourage you to move into this city if you want to live in Bolivia, as you can see in our dedicated guide about the places where foreigners really live in our country: Where do expats live in Bolivia? All the details and facts.
Bolivian main cities are way cheaper than other places
There is another phenomenon that occurs in Bolivia, and it’s that towns around the country and rural areas have a lot more expensive prices for everything than major cities. This is because it’s very difficult to get goods and services to these far away places.
The cost of living in small towns of Bolivia, and also in rural areas, can be up to 100% more expensive in some cases. You’ll find that food, apparel, transportation, and other important stuff sometimes will be even twice as pricey as in major urban areas of the country.
But don’t worry, almost no foreigner or expat lives in these places. Outside tourism, these locations don’t meet the conditions that people from overseas may expect for a decent standard of living. So, almost no one from other countries, and even fewer from 1st tier countries, choose to live in small towns or rural areas of Bolivia, then you shouldn’t either.
In this note about how much is really the gap between the cost of living among the principal cities of Bolivia, you’ve seen that actually there is not too much difference between each of them, only up to 30%. You also learned that the cheapest cities to live in our country are La Paz and Oruro, with La Paz city being the cheapest major city the country currently has.
Also, you’ve seen that Santa Cruz City, which is the first option for people moving from overseas, has a cost of living 20% higher than La Paz or Oruro, and 10% above the national average. Additionally, you have seen that Cochabamba, another important city in Bolivia, has a cost of living that is equal to the national average of the country.
Finally, you now know that small towns and rural areas of our country have way more expensive costs of living and the prices of goods and services in these places can be up to 2x more costly than in major Bolivian cities. But anyways, almost no foreigner or expat lives in those places.
We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know how much it costs to live in Bolivia, with all the numbers, breakdowns, and facts, visit our dedicated guide in the following direction: The cost of living in Bolivia, all you need to know.
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