World Facts

10 of the World's Most Expensive Cities to Live In

Several American and European cities top the list of the world's most expensive cities to live in, as well as a handful of Asian cities.

The cost of living has constantly increased across the globe. However, there are some cities where the cost of basic items has gone exceptionally high. Most of these cities are principally in the US, Europe, and Asia. The level of cost is calculated based on prices of various day to day goods and services, whether basic or secondary needs. Below are the ten most expensive cities to live in.

10. Hamilton, Bermuda

Editorial credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski /

As a fast-growing city, Hamilton, the capital city of Bermuda, has experienced an upward cost of living in the recent years. Here, housing comes at a high cost. In addition, the cost for utility bills, food, and entertainment are among the highest in the world. Taxation and the cost of doing business is also high.

9. San Francisco

A report by the Council for Community and Economic Research indicates that San Francisco’s cost of living is about 62% higher than the average cost in the U.S. The cost of obtaining a house is three times that of other cities in the US. San Francisco has been rated as the most expensive places to rent a house. This is according to Zumper, an online real estate company. The median rent for two bedrooms and one-bed bedroom apartments is approximately $4,650 and $3,100 respectively. The cost of transportation is comparatively high, especially if you are using private means. Though the city has some of the finest chefs in the world, the cost of food is 23% higher than the national average. Health care costs are 20% higher than the US average.

8. Vancouver

Editorial credit: Josef Hanus /

Though rated among the most livable city with high quality of life, the Canadian city is characterized by skyrocketing housing prices and above average price of food and basic utilities. The Demographia Company ranked the city as the second most unaffordable city in the world in 2012. The majority of Vancouverites pays over 50% of their salaries to either rent or to service a mortgage. Rents increased by 6.4% in 2016 alone against the national cap of 2.9%. Cost of education in private schools is also quite high.

7. Geneva

Located in Switzerland, Geneva is an expensive city. Research shows that residents spend around 15% of their income on food. There is a shortage of accommodation leading to landlords charging a premium. Renting an apartment is higher in Geneva than in New York and Paris. Though taxes are comparatively low, the price of insurance, food, and other services is higher than Europe’s average cost. Compulsory deductions will cost 29% of the income while housing and energy will cost 16%.

6. New York

#6 New York

New York has higher taxes than the rest of the US which financially strains residents. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the median rent in the New York metro area for a two bedroom apartment is $1,638. This amount is higher than other cities in the US. The cost of utilities is higher than the average and for car owners, there is the high cost of maintenance, insurance, and parking. Groceries also cost between 28% and 39% higher than the national average.

5. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city in Southeastern China. As a global financial hub, living in the city is quite expensive. There is a dense population and the high cost of accommodation. A local might spend approximately 65% on rent while owning a home is out of reach for many people. The cost of food is unreasonably high with a limited variety to choose from. The cost of utilities is as high as the cost of transport. Since the city is quite congested, owning and maintaining a car is quite expensive and navigating across the city will be difficult.

4. London

#4 London

Living in the UK and particularly in London is very expensive compared to many cities in the world. Most of the average resident's income goes to accommodation whether it is rental or a mortgage. Statistics from the ECA International indicated that the cost of a three bedroom apartment will be twice the cost of Paris. The cost of food and other domestic consumables is higher than the average of other Europe cities. In the UK, taxation on petrol is relatively high thereby increasing the cost of driving. Privatization is another factor contributing to the higher cost of living as the private companies seek to make higher profits. Wage stagnation in some sectors coupled with annual inflation has made people take up to three jobs a day to make ends meet.

3. Los Angeles

Los Angeles is an expensive city largely because of housing cost. The sale value of houses has appreciated by 78.5% in the last five years. The ripple effect is that rent has tremendously gone up. Therefore, to live in entourage-style splendor, one has to have a very high income. The transport cost is not lower since fuel cost in Los Angeles is higher than the national average. Utility bills do not come any cheaper. The cost of food, as well as entertainment cost, is also higher compared to other cities in the world.

2. Tokyo

Editorial credit: PixHound /

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is among the most populous and expensive metropolitan areas in the world. As a major International Finance Center (IFC), Tokyo houses global investment companies. Cost of living for all people has been on the rise with the Economist Intelligence Unit ranking Tokyo as the 11th most expensive city for 14 years consecutively ending in 2006. Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in Asia to get accommodation, whether by owning a house or renting. Food costs more whereas, for utilities and entertainment, one has to dig deeper into the pocket.

1. Oslo

Oslo is the most populous city in Norway. Though ranking highly in quality of life, the city is one of the most expensive cities to live in. According to ECA International (2011), the city was ranked second in terms of cost of living. A survey conducted by the Swiss bank, UBS, in August 2006 ranked Oslo and London as the most expensive cities to live in. Owning a house or renting one is very expensive. Oslo city residents are highly taxed. Utility bills, groceries, alcohol, and entertainment come at a high cost.

More in World Facts