Which is the most expensive, or the cheapest, city in the world to live in? A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) titled “Worldwide Cost of Living 2016” offers a list that features some of the usual suspects as well as a few surprises.
While personal experience and anecdotal data might influence how such lists are received, the EIU’s methodology involved collecting over 50,000 prices from a range of stores covering more than 160 items in each city. The prices were then converted to U.S. dollars and then weighted using an international base to achieve comparative indexes, before being ranked using New York as the base city.
These are the 10 most expensive cities in the world this year.
The city-state is on top of the unenviable list for the third consecutive year, but its lead over its closest competitors has narrowed significantly. Thanks to its Certificate of Entitlement system, Singapore is the most expensive place in the world to buy and drive a car.
2. Zurich, Switzerland
The largest city in Switzerland is also its most expensive, and climbed up from the fourth spot to the second this year. Zurich has also held the distinction of being the wealthiest city in Europe, and is home to a large number of banks and other financial institutions, as well as to the Swiss stock exchange.
3. Hong Kong
Tied with Zurich for the second most expensive city, Hong Kong jumped seven places on the list this year. While cheaper in some aspects, the Chinese territory is 28 percent more expensive than Singapore when it comes to buying basic groceries.
4. Geneva, Switzerland
The second-most populous city in Switzerland is also the second-most expensive in Europe. The presence of a second Swiss city in the top five on the list is evidence that Switzerland is not much affected by the austerity measures being practiced by its European neighbors.
The French capital is the first city on the list with a lower ranking than last year, when it was at second place. However, given the lack of confidence in the euro, Paris is the only city from the eurozone to be in the list. Alcohol and tobacco are the only two things cheaper here than other European cities.
A new entrant to the top 10 this year, London was in 11th place last year. The United Kingdom’s capital, a financial hub, perhaps benefited from not being a part of the eurozone, and consequently became pricier than most of its neighbors.
7. New York
A regular feature on the top 10 before the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Apple forms the base city for the rankings, and climbed 15 places this year to the seventh spot. It is not that the city has seen significant price rises, rather, it is the strength of the dollar that puts New York in its current spot, its highest since 2002.
Another European capital on the list that lies outside the eurozone, Copenhagen is tied in the eighth spot with an Asian capital and the only other U.S. city in the top 10. However, the Danish capital is cheaper than most other places on this list when it comes to buying groceries and tobacco.
The South Korean capital has come a long way from its 36th position five years ago. Seoul is the most expensive place to buy groceries, and ranks alongside Singapore for buying clothes and paying for utilities. It is tied in the eighth spot with Copenhagen and Los Angeles, the last entry in the top 10.
10. Los Angeles
Among the top 10 cities in the list, the U.S. West Coast city made the biggest jump compared to last year, moving up 19 places. Much like New York, the only other U.S. city in the list, Los Angeles moved up in the rankings driven largely by currency factors, and is tied with Copenhagen and Seoul for the eighth spot.