Top 30 Most Expensive Places Across the World
Top 30 Most Expensive Places Across the World

City life isn't for everyone. It's crowded, loud, and most of all, it's expensive. It can be, anyway. Some cities are more affordable than others, of course, but some make you wonder how anyone can afford to live there. While the cost of living might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're thinking about moving somewhere new, it's important.

Computing the cost of living in a given area is typically done by measuring the cost of various goods and services, from rent/mortgage and utilities to groceries and sneakers, then comparing those amounts to the cost of the same goods and services elsewhere. The final number is often given in respect to a baseline location, such as the notoriously pricey New York City. No two lists of expensive countries are identical. Different research organizations use slightly different equations to compute the cost of living, and some include territories that others leave out or get their information from alternate sources. Nonetheless, viewing multiple lists reveals some identifiable trends:

In previous years, the cities ranked at the top of the list have been somewhat predictable. Hong Kong topped the list in 2020, with notoriously expensive American cities like New York and Los Angeles trailing close behind. This year, however, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey saw drastic—and somewhat unexpected—changes.

This year, Hong Kong slipped in the ratings from the number one most expensive city in the world to number two. It's situated right behind Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, which we're guessing not many people saw coming. Number three, Beirut, Lebanon, jumped a whopping 42 spots from 2020, due to political turmoil and inflation.

Tel Aviv is The Most Expensive City In the World

This sun-soaked city on Israel's Mediterranean coast topped the EIU's ranking for the first time, climbing from its spot at number five in 2020. The city received a cost of living score of 106, due in large part to the strength of the Israeli shekel against the U.S. dollar. It also saw a noticeable increase in grocery and transport prices in 2021.

The Israeli city takes the top spot from Paris, which dropped to a shared second place with Singapore.

The data was gathered by the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit and was published on Wednesday.

Tel Aviv climbed the rankings partly due to the strength of the national currency, the Israeli shekel, against the US dollar, as well increases in prices for transport and groceries.

Next in the ranking were Zurich, Hong Kong and New York. Rounding off the top 10 were Geneva, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Osaka in 10th place.

The Syrian capital Damascus was ranked the world’s cheapest city to live in.

Restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic “have disrupted the supply of goods, leading to shortages and higher prices,” said Upasana Dutt, the head of worldwide cost of living at The EIU.

“We can clearly see the impact in this year’s index, with the rise in petrol prices particularly stark,” she said, while central banks are expected to raise interest rates cautiously, reducing inflation.

The average inflation figure does not include four cities with exceptionally high rates: Caracas, Damascus, Buenos Aires and Tehran. The Iranian capital rose from 79th to 29th place in the ranking as US sanctions have pushed up prices and caused shortages.

Chicago Among Top Most Expensive Places Across the World

Photo: claritypartners
Photo: claritypartners

Compared to major cities across the globe, Chicago was named among the top most expensive places to live, according to a newly released ranking.

In a list from Budget Direct, Chicago took No. 23 out of 30 cities worldwide when taking the cost of living from the average salary, ranking just one spot below New York City.

Chicago's overall cost of living minus the average salary was equal to $3,379.48, which is what residents are left to spend, the company found. The average monthly salary was $5,489.23, while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,837.27 and utilities were $167.71.

In Chicago, Budget Direct found that it typically cost $104.77 each month for transportation. Overall, the cost of living was calculated to be $2,109.75.

In order to get the final listing, Budget Direct looked at basic costs such as transport, utilities and rent and measured them against average salaries, the company said in a release.

Chicago also ranked among the most expensive places for fitness and leisure, where the company compared the cost of fuel, a dinner for two and a fitness pass to the average cost of living.

Last month, several Chicago-area suburbs earned spots among the best places to buy a house in Illinois in a new ranking, with three placed in the top 10.

Based on public schools, crime and safety, housing, nightlife, diversity and how good for raising a family, the newly released ranking from Niche gave scores to suburbs across the state.

Suburban Long Grove ranked as the second best place to purchase a home in Illinois, while Kildeer earned a No. 5 spot and Fox River Grove was ranked No. 6.

Long Grove also ranked as the best place to raise a family in Illinois and the fourth best location nationwide, according to the list. The suburb scored an overall A+ score, with an A+ in public schools, A in housing, A+ in "good for families," B in nightlife and B- in diversity.

According to Niche, Long Grove has a population of nearly 8,000 residents with a median home value of $648,700.

Chicago-area's Kildeer, which has a population around 4,000, also earned an A+ overall grade, with an A+ in public schools, A in housing, A+ in "good for families" B+ for crime and safety, B- in nightlife and C+ in diversity, the list showed.

With a median home value of $631,500, Kildeer was also graded an A- in jobs based on employment rates, jobs, business growth and cost of living. The median household income is $211,063, Niche calculated.

Fox River Grove was graded an A+, as well, overall, with an A+ in public schools, A in housing, A+ in "good for families," A- in crime and safety, B+ in nightlife and B in diversity, the list showed.

With a population of 4,676, Niche found that Fox River Grove's median home value is $248,600. The suburb received an A- in jobs with a median household income of $112,917.

After the top 10, here's where some other suburbs ranked:

  • No. 11: Forest Lake
  • No. 13: Indian Head Park
  • No. 15: Riverwoods
  • No. 16: Inverness
  • No. 17: Buffalo Grove

Pandemic problems

The EIU reports that, on average, prices for the goods and services covered by the index have risen by 3.5% year on year in local-currency terms, compared with an increase of just 1.9% this time last year.

Those much-reported global supply-chain problems have contributed to price rises and the Covid-19 pandemic and social restrictions are still affecting production and trade around the world. With a new coronavirus variant currently causing widespread alarm, these issues won't be going away in a hurry.

Rising oil prices drove a 21% increase in the price of unleaded petrol, reports the EIU, but there were also big price hikes in the recreation, tobacco and personal care categories.

The highest-rising city in 2021 was the Iranian city of Tehran, which jumped 50 places from No.79 to No.29 as US sanctions resulted in shortages and higher prices.

The Syrian city of Damascus once again ranks as the cheapest city in the world, as its war-torn economy continues to struggle. Damascus and Tehran suffered from very high inflation in 2021, as did Caracas in Venezuela and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Top 30 Most Expensive Places Across the World

Photo: nbcnews
Photo: nbcnews

1. Tel Aviv, Israel

2. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

3. Cardiff, Wales

4. London, United Kingdom

5. Seoul, Korea

6. Helsinki, Finland

7. Manchester, England

8. Edinburgh, Scotland

9. Reykjavik, Iceland

10. Stockholm, Sweden

11. Tokyo, Japan

12. Singapore, Singapore

13. Vancouver, Canada

14. Munich, Germany

15. Berlin, Germany

16. Gothenburg, Sweden

17. Amsterdam, Netherlands

18. Copenhagen, Denmark

19. Oslo, Norway

20. Sydney, Australia

21. Melbourne, Australia

22. New York City, New York

23. Chicago, Illinois

24. Canberra, Australia

25. Toronto, Canada

26. Los Angeles, California

27. Houston, Texas

28. Geneva, Switzerland

29. San Francisco, California

30. Seattle, Washington

Tel Aviv cost of living

In 2011, a “tent revolution” saw young Israelis furious at sharp rises in rents erect shelters on the upmarket Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of the city. A decade later, the tents are gone but the soaring prices have remained.

“The protest had a temporary effect,” said Asher Blass, former chief economist at the Bank of Israel. Tel Aviv’s ranking this year is primarily due to the strong local currency, he said.

Last month, the shekel reached a 25-year high against the dollar. As the cost of housing and other basics like groceries has increased, wage growth has been uneven.

“A lot more needs to be done in opening up competition for goods like agricultural produce” to bring down prices, Blass said.

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