The Most Expensive Cities in the World

Typical housing in London, United Kingdom. Housing costs contribute to London being one of the world's most expensive in which to live.
Typical housing in London, United Kingdom. Housing costs contribute to London being one of the world's most expensive in which to live.

The cost of living varies from one city to another with cities ranging from very expensive to very cheap. The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes yearly reports – the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey which compares prices of goods and services in 133 cities. The prices are compared to those of New York, which is assigned an index of 100. The significant expenses compared in the report include housing, transport, food, household supplies, and clothing. The rise and fall of the costs of living in these cities depend on the economic policies, inflation, and external market conditions. The final expenses incurred ultimately rely on the kind of lifestyle an individual chooses.

10. Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles, California.

The cost of living in Los Angeles is the tenth most expensive in the world. The increasing prices for renting and owning a home have increased steadily with a one bedroom apartment, priced at $1,949, costing more than the national average of $977. High fuel costs are about 55% higher than the national average further inflating the costs of living in the city. Food prices are relatively low with most groceries falling below the national average. However, the cost of eating out at an average restaurant is at least 11% higher than the national average. Entertainment and clothing costs rank above the national average as well. However, the cost of internet in Los Angeles is cheaper than in New York.

9. Seoul

Bukchon Hanok district, Seoul.

The South Korean city is the ninth most expensive in the world and one of the costliest in Asia. While accommodation rates are lower than those in New York, they are relatively high with a three bedroomed apartment renting at an average monthly rate of $3000. Food and shopping are more expensive in the city with the average cost of groceries being more than 50% of New York’s rates. Fruits in the City are considerably costlier than other groceries. Other utilities such as electricity, gas, and water are moderately priced compared to other cities.

8. Copenhagen

Houses in central Copenhagen.

Denmark’s capital is one of the most expensive European cities especially due to high taxes. Income tax for examples is between 25 and 36%. The earnings of Denmark’s workers are relatively higher than for the US making the high cost of living bearable for most of them. The competitive housing market makes it hard to locate houses, which are also expensive especially closer to the city center. Cars are also expensive in the city with most people preferring public transport and cycling. Basic commodities such as food and sanitary items vary in costs with some such as milk being very cheap while others like fruits and vegetables are expensive.

7. New York

Apartment buildings in Manhattan.

New York is the most expensive city in the US with high-income tax rates coupled with high prices for goods and services. The cost of living gets higher as you get closer to the city center. Housing is the most expensive basic cost in New York for both rental apartments and purchasing a house. Owning a car in the city is an expensive affair especially for maintenance, insurance, fueling, and parking which go way above the national average, particularly in the metropolitan area. The costs of food are also more than 25% above the national average for groceries and more than 50% for eating at an average restaurant. Other high costs in the city include clothing and entertainment.

6. London

Skyscrapers in London.

London is the most expensive city in the UK and one with the leading wages as well. Like most big cities in the world, London is an expensive city to live in with ever increasing housing rates, transport and costs for essentials. The increasing costs of housing and other commodities against the almost stagnant wages have made life in London a lot more expensive for most people.

5. Paris

Residential buildings in Paris.

Paris is one of the most expensive teleport cities in the world and the most expensive in the Eurozone. Paris is about 7% more expensive than New York. Standards of living in the city are escalated by the high costs of housing with an average apartment going for $1,800 in rent. The costs for food, drinks, and entertainment are, on average, higher than in other cities. As one of the top world cities, shopping for clothes in Paris is also expensive. Although Paris was affected by the Eurozone crisis, it remains among the most expensive cities majorly due to the high salaries of most of the Parisians as well as demand for good quality goods and services.

4. Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland.

Geneva is the world’s fourth most expensive city with a cost of living index that is 39.22% higher than New York. Like most of the high-end cities, the cost of housing in Geneva contributes much to the increased cost of living with an average apartment going for $2500. Transport, food, the internet, and entertainment costs are also higher than those of most cities. In Geneva, it is cheaper to make your food rather than eating out. Prices may get lower as one move further from the city center.

3. Hong Kong

Tower blocks in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is the third most expensive city in the world with some of the highest costs of living. The high living standards in Hong Kong are directly related to the high incomes of the residents. Accommodation is one of the costliest with a small apartment renting from about $1000. Basic food items are also more expensive than those in other cities. On the brighter side, public transport and rice in Hong Kong are relatively cheaper.

2. Zurich

Old town, Zurich.

Zurich is another expensive Swiss city, characterized by high costs of living and increased salaries. Residents of Zurich spend about 60% more than the average European. The increase in the cost of living in Zurich and Geneva is influenced by the increasing value of the Swiss Franc in the European market. An average one bedroomed apartment in Zurich costs more than $2000 in monthly rent, with furnishing costs excluded. Essential commodities such as food keep increasing in price despite improving economic conditions.

1. Singapore

Residential buildings in Singapore.

Singapore has held the position for the most expensive city in the world since 2013. The costs of owning and maintaining a car in Singapore are the highest in the world, inflating the costs of living. To reduce the impact of cars on the city to minimal, Singapore has high taxes and fees for cars. Foods in Singapore cost more on average than in New York. Groceries, for example, cost 11% more in Singapore than in New York.


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