In this year’s Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore tied for the the position of the most expensive.
The survey looks at 160 items including food, drink, rent, transport and utility bills, in 133 cities. New York, the base city, came in 7th, alongside Seoul and Copenhagen.
Zurich and Geneva were 4th and 5th.
The ten most expensive cities were:
1. Singapore (Singapore)
1. Paris (France)
1. Hong Kong (China)
4. Zurich (Switzerland)
5. Geneva (Switzerland)
5. Osaka (Japan)
7. Seoul (South Korea)
7. Copenhagen (Denmark)
7. New York (US)
10. Tel Aviv (Israel)
10. Los Angeles (US)
In the EIU survey, Zurich and Geneva, along with Tel Aviv, are the only cities in the top 10 that manage to be both small and expensive. All three have populations below 500,000. In Tel Aviv, currency appreciation played a part in its rise, but Tel Aviv also has some specifc costs that drive up prices, notably those of buying, insuring and maintaining a car, all of which push transport costs 64% above New York prices.
Seoul has the most expensive bread (US$15.59 per kg), Zurich the most expensive beer (US$3.25 for 330 ml) and New York the most expensive two-piece men’s suit (US$2,729.77) and women’s haircuts (US$210.00).
High cost is not without its benefits. The most expensive also tend to be the most livable. A recent survey by Mercer, ranked Zurich and Geneva the 2nd and 9th most livable cities globally.
The survey said: “There is a considerable element of risk in some of the world’s cheapest cities…put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable.”
Caracas was ranked the least expensive city. A rapidly depreciating currency helped send the city to the bottom.
In Caracas, the bread (US$0.77), beer (US$1.42), suits (US$469.60) and haircuts (US$1.77) are all cheap.
The 10 cheapest cities in the world were:
1. Caracas (Venezuela)
2. Damascus (Syria)
3. Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
4. Almaty (Kazakhstan)
5. Bangalore (India)
6. Karachi (Pakistan)
6. Lagos (Nigeria)
7. Buenos Aires (Argentina)
7. Chennai (India)
8. New Delhi (India)
The annual index is designed to help companies calculate the cost-of-living for expatriates and business travellers.
Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living 2019 (in English)