According to the Economist’s annual ranking of cities, Zurich came out top in the report published on 29 November 2023.
Tied in first place this year were Singapore and Zurich. Singapore is no stranger to the top spot: it has ranked as the priciest place to live in nine of the past 11 years. Groceries, alcohol and clothing in the international business hub can cost a small fortune, wrote the Economist. The cost of a certificate needed to own a car (which the government wants to discourage) recently topped $106,000. Zurich, meanwhile, jumped five places from last year.
Switzerland’s largest city is perennially pricey; it came joint first in 2020 and rarely leaves the top ten. Its rise to the top of the index is mostly because the Swiss franc has appreciated by more than 10% against the dollar over the past year. (The survey’s benchmark city is New York, so if a country’s currency strengthens its cities will generally move up the ranking.)
Geneva, which was third equal with New York, remained in the top ten. In Europe, both Zurich and Geneva had a significant lead on third placed Paris.
Western European cities, including Copenhagen, Dublin and Vienna, take around half of the top 20 spots. Rising prices are one reason. Another is that the European Central Bank raised interest rates six times in 2023 to tame inflation, which caused the euro to appreciate by 7% against the dollar. North American cities dropped in the ranking this year: New York, last year’s joint most-expensive city with Singapore, fell to third place.
Economist article (in English)