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How Much Space Does $1,500 Rent You in the 30 Most Magnetic Cities in the World?

Making do with a small apartment is something many people feel forced to consider when renting in a big city. Location is king but so is cash, so size gets to be compromised on very often. However, if you just don’t want to sacrifice size on the altar of an expensive location, things tend to get really frustrating. What a time to be alive, huh?

Last year we examined the price-to-space ratio in the 30 most populous cities in the US, and we discovered how much space you can rent in cities like Philadelphia, Denver, or Las Vegas for $1,500 per month. This time we thought we’d go a step further from the likes of Washingon, DC or Charlotte, NC, and show you what can you get for the same amount of money in the 30 most magnetic cities around the world.

But what makes these cities magnetic? The Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies has your answer in their Global Power City Index research. Their summary ranks each city in terms of their attractiveness, based on six main criteria: economy, research & development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessibility.

$1,500 per Month—from 277 Sq. Ft. In Manhattan, NY to 1,889 Sq. Ft. In Istanbul, TR

Starting from this list, with the help of our ever loyal market data friend, Yardi Matrix, we managed to calculate how much space will $1,500 rent you in each of these cities. The different sizes of the tiles below represent the actual proportions of how the value of your money changes across different real estate markets.

As you can see, $1,500 will rent you three times more space in Shanghai than in Los Angeles and twice as much in Frankfurt. The per-square-foot price is more than five times higher in San Francisco than in Berlin—basically, the German capital would offer you a five times larger living space than San Francisco, for the same amount of money.

It might be hard to picture this, so here’s something easier: the size of an apartment in Istanbul equals the size of seven hypothetical Manhattan apartments you’d rent for $1,500/month. This is how the 1-1 ratio goes:

Because the numbers involved are essential, we included a table stuffed with all the data used in the study. Depending on the measurement units you’re used to, you can check the price per square foot or per square meter in any of the 30 cities analyzed in this study. We’ve also included exactly how much space one can rent for $1,500 based on the average price per square foot (the same data we used in the infographic above), so feel free to sort the cities by the criteria which is of interest to you.

#CitySq. Ft. / $1,500Price / Sq. Ft.Sq. M. / $1,500Price / Sq. M.
1Istanbul, TR1,899$0.79176$8.50
2Shanghai, CN1,705$0.88158$9.47
3Berlin, DE1,500$1.00139$10.76
4Beijing, CN1,426$1.05133$11.30
5Seoul, KR1,389$1.08129$11.63
6Frankfurt, DE1,035$1.4596$15.59
7Vienna, AT1,009$1.4994$15.99
8Madrid, ES949$1.5888$17.01
9Osaka, JP898$1.6783$17.98
10Brussels, BE843$1.7878$19.16
11Barcelona, ES769$1.9571$20.99
12Toronto, CA674$2.2363$23.96
13Amsterdam, NL622$2.4158$25.94
14Copenhagen, DK620$2.4258$26.05
15Vancouver, CA610$2.4657$26.48
16Chicago, US600$2.5056$26.91
17Washington D.C., US543$2.7650$29.71
18Tokyo, JP538$2.7950$30.03
19Sydney, AU537$2.7950$30.05
20Los Angeles, US530$2.8349$30.46
21Singapore, SG449$3.3442$35.95
22Stockholm, SE419$3.5839$38.54
23Boston, US359$4.1833$44.99
24Geneva, CH341$4.4032$47.36
25Paris, FR321$4.6730$50.27
26Hong Kong, HK321$4.6730$50.27
27San Francisco, US316$4.7529$51.13
28Zurich, CH314$4.7829$51.45
29London, GB301$4.9828$53.60
30Manhattan (NYC), US277$5.4226$58.34

Here’s something surprising: four Western European cities compete with Manhattan, San Francisco, and Hong Kong in terms of high per-square-foot prices. London, Paris and the Swiss beauties Zurich and Geneva offer under 350 sq. ft. for $1,500/month:

Manhattan vs. Seoul

Boasting a high ranking in the GPCI in terms of research & development, economy and cultural interaction, New York City is the second most magnetic global hub—a desirable place to call home.  It doesn’t come as a surprise that a financial center such as Manhattan offers only 277 sq. ft. (26 m2) for $1,500.  Besides being a winner in terms of career opportunity, The City that Never Sleeps measures up to its reputation, much to the delight of the outgoing night owl in you.

Similar to New York in terms of architecture, entertainment and employment options, Seoul tells the story from another angle. In Seoul, the same amount of money will rent you no less than a 1,389-sq.-ft. (129 m2) apartment, which means that you get to make yourself at home in a highly generous living space. The top educational system, the remarkable public transportation network and the modern, yet traditional allure make for an amazing city to call home.

San Francisco vs. Vienna

Smaller, less hustly-bustly and slightly less expensive than NYC, San Francisco is among the most coveted cities in the world. There is no shortage of cultural diversity and entertainment options here. For $1,500 a month, you can rent a 316-sq.-ft. (29 m2) apartment in The Golden Gate City and enjoy the perks of living in one of the best places of opportunity in the US.

If you’d rather not downsize your living space to 316 sq. ft. (29 m2) , the good news is that you can triple it instead by moving to Austria. A monthly sum of $1,500 would rent you 1,009 sq. ft. (94 m2) of living space on average in the gorgeous city of Vienna, making it one of the most affordable Western European cities out of the batch. Here wellness meets opportunity, so your career is sure to be in good hands. The City of Music also runs the gamut of entertainment options from museums, vintage cinemas, live shows to recreational parks and hiking trails.


Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at

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