Global Cost of Living Survey Ranks World’s Most Expensive Cities


  • Singapore and Zurich top the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey.
  • North American cities, including New York, see a slip in the cost-of-living ranking.
  • Western Europe and Latin America experience a rise in living costs.
  • Utility prices show the slowest inflation, while groceries remain a significant factor.

Singapore and Zurich Lead the Pack

Singapore and Zurich have risen to the top as the world’s most expensive cities, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey. Singapore, maintaining its top position for the ninth time in eleven years, shares the first spot with Zurich — marking a significant climb for the Swiss city from sixth place in 2022.

The Survey’s Scope and Findings

Conducted across 173 cities, the survey compares over 200 products and services, revealing an average price rise of 7.4% year-on-year. This rate, though slightly down from 8.1% in 2022, remains significantly above the 2017-21 trend. Factors like groceries, clothing, and strong currency appreciation have played a crucial role in these cities’ rankings.

A global map displaying the cost-of-living index for various cities in September 2023, with New York indexed at 100 and other cities compared relative to it. Red dots represent the cities, with some labeled, such as Zurich and Singapore at 104, indicating higher costs of living, and others like Damascus at 13, indicating lower costs.
Map – The Economist

Western Europe and North America’s Shifts

In Western Europe, cities like Copenhagen, Dublin, and Vienna claim about half of the top 20 spots, driven by sticky inflation in groceries and clothing, along with currency appreciation. In contrast, North American cities, including last year’s joint top-spot holder New York, have generally moved down the ranking.

Emerging Trends and Surprises

Cities like Santiago de Querétaro and Aguascalientes in Mexico, and Costa Rica’s San José, have shown significant upward movement. Meanwhile, Moscow and St. Petersburg witnessed the most considerable drops, plummeting due to sanctions weakening the rouble.

EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 survey compares the prices of more than 200 goods and services in 173 major cities.

Global Inflation and Future Predictions

Despite predictions of easing energy prices and supply-chain problems, global inflation remains a pressing concern. The report ends on a note of caution, with potential increases in energy prices and uncertainties like the Israel-Hamas conflict and El Niño potentially influencing future costs.

Diverse Rankings: Expensive and Affordable Cities

The survey not only highlights the most expensive cities but also points out the most affordable ones, with Damascus, Syria, leading as the least expensive. This contrast provides a vivid picture of the global economic landscape and the varied cost of living around the world.

The 10 Most Expensive Cities

  1. Singapore (tie)
  2. Zurich, Switzerland (tie)
  3. New York City, U.S.
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Los Angeles, U.S.
  7. Paris, France
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. Tel Aviv, Israel
  10. San Francisco, U.S.

The 10 Least Expensive Cities

  1. Damascus, Syria
  2. Tehran, Iran
  3. Tripoli, Libya
  4. Karachi, Pakistan
  5. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  6. Tunis, Tunisia
  7. Lusaka, Zambia
  8. Ahmedabad, India
  9. Lagos, Nigeria
  10. Chennai, India

This comprehensive survey provides crucial insights into the shifting trends of global living costs, guiding individuals and businesses in their economic planning and understanding of the worldwide financial landscape.

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