The 10 most expensive cities to live in the world

Kalila Sangster
·3-min read

WATCH: Paris and Zurich climb the list of world’s most expensive cities to live in

Zurich in Switzerland, capital of France, Paris, and Hong Kong have been revealed as the most expensive cities to live in the world, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living 2020 report by The Economist.

The three cities tied in first place in the ranking, which is created by comparing the price of a basket of 138 items in about 130 cities around the world

Hong Kong retained the top spot, having also held it in 2019. Paris and Zurich both moved up four places to tie in first place.

Singapore followed closely behind, falling three places in 2020. Prices in Singapore fell as the coronavirus pandemic prompted a significant number of foreign workers to leave the city state. With the overall population contracting for the first time since 2003, demand has declined, the report found.

Tel Aviv in Israel and Osaka in Japan come in joint fifth place, followed by Geneva in Switzerland.

The most expensive city in the US was New York, followed by Los Angeles, both ranking within the top 10.

READ MORE: Average UK house prices predicted to rise by 51% by 2045

The cost of living around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The survey found that particular categories of consumer goods had been affected differently. “With many shops closed during lockdowns, the prices of essential products have been more resilient than those of non-essential goods,” the report found.

Europe and surrounding areas seen from space. Perfectly usable for topics like global business or European economy and culture. High quality 3D rendered image made from ultra high res 20k textures by NASA: https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/55167/earths-city-lights, https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/73934/topography, https://visibleearth.nasa.gov/images/57747/blue-marble-clouds/77558l
The cost of living around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty

Tobacco and recreation items, including consumer electronics, have seen the greatest price increases since last year, while clothing prices have experienced the steepest decline.

The prices of packaged goods, such as coffee, cheese, rice and orange juice, increased across most cities surveyed. However, the average index for the food and grocery category remained flat.

Alcohol prices went up, with prices of local beers holding up better than those for the top brands. While bars are shut due to lockdowns in many cities, overall demand remains strong with high online sales also driving prices up.

Top 10 most expensive cities in the world. Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world. Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit

Sales of clothing and footwear plunged as lockdowns across the globe forced non-essential stores to close their doors. Despite a shift to online retailing, many consumers delayed spending money on a new wardrobe. The report forecasts “global consumer spending on clothing to fall by over 9% in 2020 and recovery to be slow over the next few years.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Younger generations critical to economic recovery

Many countries have seen a sharp fall in disposable incomes due to the economic impact of COVID-19, causing consumers to increase saving and slash spending.

Supply-chain issues also affected prices, with goods shortages affecting items such as toilet roll and pasta fuelling price increases in some categories.

Watch: Why can't governments just print more money?