World’s top 10 most expensive cities revealed

World’s top 10 most expensive cities revealed article image

Asia is now home to five out of the top six most expensive cities in the world, according to a new survey.

The Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2017 conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) names Singapore as the world’s most expensive city for a fourth consecutive year.

Not only has Singapore stayed top but Hong Kong remains second, closely followed by Zurich. The latest survey has also seen a return to the top ten most expensive cities for Tokyo and Osaka.

The cost of living in Sydney and Melbourne has been rising steadily in recent years and the two cities are now ranked in the top 20 most expensive cities in the world.

Tokyo, which was the world’s most expensive city until 2012, has moved seven places up the ranking owing to a sustained recovery in the strength of the Japanese yen. With Japanese cities returning to the fold, Asia now accounts for half of the ten most expensive cities ranked.

Lone North American representative

Western Europe accounts for a further four cities, while New York City is the lone North American representative. The Big Apple, which rose to seventh place last year, has fallen to ninth owing to a slight weakening of the US dollar, which has also affected the position of other US cities. This, however, still represents a comparatively sharp increase in the relative cost of living compared with five years ago, when New York was ranked 46th. 

With the strength of the US dollar moderating and the euro remaining relatively stable, currencies such as the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar have appreciated in value.

As a result, Wellington and Auckland now join Sydney and Melbourne in the 20 most expensive cities.

Although the relative cost of living has fallen slightly in the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva, both remain cemented among the ten most expensive, in third place and joint seventh place respectively. Joining Geneva in seventh place is Paris, which has featured among the ten most expensive cities for 15 years, although the relative cost of living in the French capital has moderated.

Only euro zone city

Currently, living in Paris is 7% more expensive than living in New York, but just five years ago it was 50% pricier.

Paris is the only euro zone city among the ten most expensive. The French capital remains structurally extremely expensive to live in, with only alcohol and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities. The Danish capital, Copenhagen, which pegs its currency to the euro, also features in the ten priciest, largely owing to relatively high transport and personal care costs.

Despite topping the ranking, Singapore still offers relative value in some categories, especially compared with its regional peers. For categories such as personal care, household goods and domestic help Singapore remains significantly cheaper than its peers, although it remains the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car, as well as the second-priciest destination in which to buy clothes.

In terms of food and drink the cost of living in Singapore is on a par with that of Shanghai in China. Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka present the three most expensive places in the world to buy staple goods. In Seoul, topping up a grocery basket is almost 50% more expensive than in New York.

The 10 most expensive cities in the world

  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Paris, France
  • New York
  • Copenhagen, Denmark 

The five cheapest cities in the word

  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Bangalore, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Algiers, Algeria


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