Cost of living: which are the world's most expensive & cheapest cities?

19 March 2019 - 16:55 By AFP Relaxnews
According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Paris is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in.
According to an Economist Intelligence Unit survey, Paris is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in.
Image: iStock/TomasSereda

Paris has climbed to the top of the list of the globe's priciest cities for expatriates, tied first with Singapore and Hong Kong, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey. 

Paris is "extremely expensive to live in", with an average two-piece business suit for men setting buyers back around $2k (around R29k) and a typical women's haircut costing $120 (about R1.7k), it found.

Only "alcohol, transport and tobacco" offer value for money compared with other European cities, the survey said.

The EIU said it was the first time in the more than three decades of the survey that three cities were equally ranked top, after Singapore led the chart outright a year earlier.

The top ten list was dominated by Asian and European cities (see full list below).

Currency appreciation, inflation and devaluation as well as political upheaval played a part in this year's rankings, said EIU, which surveyed 133 cities worldwide.

It compared 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food and drink, clothing, home rental, transport, schooling and recreation.

The survey is aimed at helping companies calculate compensation packages and allowances for expatriate staff and business travellers.

Caracas dethroned Damascus as the world's cheapest city amid a power struggle in Venezuela that plunged the country into a deepening crisis.

"As Damascus and Caracas show, a growing number of locations are becoming cheaper because of the impact of political or economic disruption," EIU said.

"Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable."

10 most expensive cities in the world

  • Paris, France (rank: joint 1st)
  • Hong Kong, China  (rank: joint 1st)
  • Singapore  (rank: joint 1st)
  •  Zurich, Switzerland  (rank: 4th)
  •  Geneva, Switzerland (rank: joint 5th)
  • Osaka, Japan (rank: joint 5th)
  • Seoul, South Korea (rank: joint 7th)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark (rank: joint 7th)
  • New York, US (rank: joint 7th)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (rank: joint 10th)
  • Los Angeles, US (rank: joint 10th)

10 cheapest cities in the world

  • Caracas, Venezuela (rank: 133rd)
  • Damascus, Syria (rank: 132nd)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan (rank: 131st)
  • Almaty Kazakhstan (rank: 130th)
  • Bangalore, India (rank: 129th)
  • Karachi, Pakistan (rank: joint 127th)
  • Lagos, Nigeria (rank: joint 127th)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (rank: joint 125th)
  • Chennai, India (rank: joint 125th)
  • New Delhi, India (rank: joint 125th)