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Top Most Expensive Cities in the World

Top Most Expensive Cities in the World

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, border closings, mandatory confinements, flight interruptions and other short term disruptions have made cities to become more expensive. While there are various organisations which reports the cost of living in numerous countries; Mercer, Economist Intelligence Unit and ECA International are the most popular ones.

Mercer’s annual cost of living survey is one of the notable and comprehensive survey which compares the cost of living in over 400 cities. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducts a bi-annual survey comparing the cost of living in more than 130 cities. The ECA International cost of living survey centres on the daily goods and services individuals pay for. These range from groceries to basics, such as household goods, and general expenses, incorporating clothing, electrical appliances, meals out, gym membership, and alcohol and tobacco.

Below is a list of expensive cities in the world ranked from the most expensive to the least. This list visualises findings from Business Insider India.

The Top Most Expensive Cities in the world

1. Hong Kong (China)

Most Expensive Cities in the World; Hong Kong city

Hong Kong is pegged the most expensive city in the world. This city has claimed the top spot for three consecutive years. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s bi-annual cost of living survey, the number of millionaires per 100,000 people in Hong Kong is 3059 and the price per square meter to buy apartment in city centre is $31,803 dollars. Hong Kong has the most expensive real estate market in the world, with ownership unattainable for people with high earnings. The city possess the world’s highest number of stupendously rich people, with about 93 billionaires.

2. Luanda (Angola)

Luanda city green park

Peaking at number 2 is Luanda, Africa’s most expensive city to live in. The growing population, massive infrastructural investment with accompanying GDP growth from mining operations has drive up the cost of living in Luanda.

3. Zurich (Switzerland)


Zurich comes in as the third on this list. With a population of 400,000 people, Zurich is listed as the number one city in the world for quality of life. The Swiss city ranks as the second in terms of the highest salaries, leading to an increase in rent and groceries. Switzerland’s continuous domination of the ranking isn’t surprising.

An example of the price disparity, an average medium cappuccino at a café in Zurich costs   $5.98, compared to $4.56 in New York, $5.01 in Hong Kong, and $3.66 in London. A ‘takeaway meal’, such as a burger, fries and a drink, costs $14.86 in Zurich compared to $8.37 in Central London.

4. Singapore

Singapore cityscape

Singapore reigned as the world’s most expensive city for five times in a row. The city is the most expensive place in the world to own a car, with a Volkswagen Golf costing about $110,000 compared to $44,000 in Norway. Besides car ownership, Singapore is rated among the costliest cities in the world to purchase clothes.

5. Tokyo (Japan)


Ranked second in 2019, Tokyo has become the fifth most expensive city for expats in 2020. All thanks to a strengthening Yen. Having over 9.2 million people, Tokyo boasts of the largest population with a high cost of living.

6. Kinshasa (DR Congo)


Who would have thought of Kinshasa in the sixth place? The concerted Chinese investment efforts has caused a spike in cost of living, making the city jump seven places to the present position.

7. Shanghai (China)


Shanghai is described as the epicenter of the booming economy of China. The city is a global hub for finance, commerce, trade and transportation. Having the world’s busiest port and rich collections of buildings and structures of architectural designs, Shanghai has clinched a spot as one of the fastest developing cities in the world. In 2019, the average annual net income of Shanghai’s residents was CN¥69,442 (US$9,808) per capita, ranking it among the wealthiest cities in China and most expensive cities in the world to live in based on the study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

8. Geneva (Switzerland)


Boasting of high salaries, Geneva which was formerly ranked thirteenth now sits at number eight on the list. Just like several global finance centres, Geneva is quite pricey. Even the currency fluctuations has offset the cost of living for expatriates.

9. N’Djamena (Chad)


Ranked among the poorest countries in the world, N’Djamena rakes in a high cost of living. Rent in the capital city rivals that of New York or London. N’Djamena serves as the main food hub and marketplace for the Central North Africa. The high cost of living is due to an increasing population.

10. Beijing (China)


Here we have another Chinese entry. Though it’s one of the costly cities in the world, Beijing has lots of tourist attractions. Owning to the numerous state owned enterprises in the city, Beijing has been pegged the “billionaire capital of the world”.

11. New York City (USA)

New York City

The highest-ranking American city on the list is New York City in eleventh place. New York’s population of 8 million people has lead to an increase in basic services.The cost of living in Manhattan is 254.7% higher than the national average. The median cost of homes in New York is $652,700 relative to a national median of $245,000. From groceries to public transportation, everything is costly in New York.

12. Shenzhen (China)


Though Shenzhen isn’t as popular as Beijing and Shanghai, it’s a large city with over 8 million residents. Famous for shopping and entertainment, Shenzhen, the tech capital of China has advanced in position from the previous year due to a declining currency.

13. Bern (Switzerland)


Switzerland is once again home to the world’s most expensive cities. The Swiss capital Bern leapfrogged the Asian metropolis to nestle behind New York City and Shenzhen in thirteenth place. Possessing one of the highest qualities of life anywhere in the world, Bern is quite expensive to foreign residents.

14. Lagos (Nigeria)


Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos is rated among Mercer’s top 5 expensive cities in Africa. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Lagos has remain attractive for foreign investments. The increase in cost of basic services has seen it rise up the list.

15. Seoul (South Korea)


The increasing population of this city has made finding accommodation an arduous task. Residents have find solace in the city’s internet connectivity which is termed the best in the world and a leading tech hub.


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