A survey of the cost of living in 77 cities, by UBS, ranks Zurich (1st) and Geneva (2nd) as the most expensive. But while these cities are the most expensive, their workers are also the highest paid.
In Zurich, less than five days pay affords an iPhone X. In Geneva, the same device requires less than six days of labour. Los Angeles (6.3 days) and Miami (6.5 days) complete the top four.
At the other end of the ranking, a worker in Cairo would need nearly 27 weeks of pay before they could buy the same phone. Mumbai (23 weeks), New Delhi (20 weeks) and Kiev (18 weeks) complete the bottom four.
Zurich and Geneva hold their own in Europe too. The pay required to buy an iPhone X in Berlin (11.2 days), London (11.4 days) and Paris (12.8 days) is around double these two Swiss cities. Part of the difference is VAT. In Switzerland it is 7.7%, far lower than in the UK (20%), Germany (19%) and France (20%).
For its study UBS looked at 15 different professions including bus drivers, carpenters, medical assistants, product managers, teachers and doctors. Their calculations include taxes and social contributions.
An average worker in Zurich earns, after taxes and social contributions, 54% more than a New Yorker, the base city. While average net pay in Geneva is 33% above New York.
Luxembourg (+11%) is the only other European city with net pay above New York. Berlin (-21%), London (-24%) and Paris (-31%) all pay less.
At the bottom are Cairo (-94%), Mumbai (-93%), New Delhi (-92%) and Kiev (-91%).
The extra net pay in Zurich (+53%) and Geneva (+33%), compared to New York is far greater than the relatively higher costs of these cities. The price level premiums, including rent, in Zurich (+4.3%) and Geneva (+2.9%) are tiny compared to the extra net pay.
UBS’s price comparisons look at the spending habits of a three-person European family. The basket contains 128 goods and services including rent, food and electronic goods.
UBS survey – Cost of living in cities around the world (in English)