Which are the world’s most expensive cities?

Which are the world’s most expensive cities?

20 April 2022 Expat life

While the attractiveness of a city or country is certainly a positive reason for moving abroad, the cost of living is an all important consideration.  When thinking of expatriation, the cost of housing, heating, schools and healthcare in your designation city are most often utmost on your mind. Foyer Global Health sheds some light on the cost of living in some of the most expensive cities in the world…


The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Index

Every year, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, establishes a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities. The 2021 Worldwide Cost of Living (WCOL) Index compares the prices of more than 200 goods and services, including heating, transport, leisure, food, and schooling in 173 cities around the world, excluding housing costs. In 2021, the EIU recorded the highest global inflation rate. On average, between 2020 and 2021, prices for goods rose by 3.5%, partly because of Covid-19 induced changes impacting the supply chain and decreasing consumer demand.

In 2021, Tel Aviv surpassed Paris to become the world’s most expensive city. Tel Aviv’s rise from fifth to first place mainly reflects the strength of the shekel against the dollar and the rise in the cost of about one tenth of the goods and services in the city, in particular grocery and transport prices. In 2021, the top of the ranking scale continues to be dominated by European, Asian and North American cities.

  1. Tel Aviv
  2. Paris, on par with Tel Aviv
  3. Singapore
  4. Zurich
  5. Hong Kong
  6. New York
  7. Geneva
  8. Copenhagen
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Osaka

The most expensive cities in the world for expats according to Eurocost International

Eurocost International produces an annual ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates based on comparisons of expat living costs in 275 cities worldwide. The survey covers products and services consumed by expatriates, including housing costs and goods consumed on a daily basis. It does not take into account healthcare costs and school fees.


2021 Eurocost International’s Expat cost of living ranking

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo
  3. Geneva
  4. London
  5. Beirut
  6. Singapore
  7. New-York
  8. Zurich
  9. Tel-Aviv
  10. Beijing

In 2021, Hong Kong was ranked the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. Tokyo was  next, followed by Geneva, the most expensive city in Europe, followed by London. In Beirut, the unprecedented political and economic crisis, left expatriates faced with rapidly rising costs in goods and services.

Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living City Ranking

Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, conducts an annual survey in order to establish a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expats. Mercer measured the comparative costs of more than 200 items in 209 cities across five continents. To compare the cost of living in these different cities, Mercer’s ranking takes into account housing and food costs.

Here is the top 10 of Mercer Ranking:

  1. Ashgabat
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Beirut
  4. Tokyo
  5. Zurich
  6. Shanghai
  7. Singapore
  8. Geneva
  9. Beijing
  10. Bern

Healthcare focus: which are the world’s most expensive healthcare systems?

When relocating, the budget for medical expenses is at the heart of expatriates’ concerns.

Which countries are the most expensive in terms of healthcare?

Every year, the OECD publishes Health at a Glance, a comparative study providing data on health system performance across OECD member countries and key emerging economies, including healthcare expenditure  in the public and private sectors. The top 5 countries spending the most on healthcare services per capita are:

  • United States of America
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Germany
  • Netherlands.

For example, in the USA, a medical consultation costs an average of €170, while in Switzerland it ranges from €90 to €185.

In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong have the best yet most expensive healthcare systems.

As an expatriate, it is important to subscribe to comprehensive and flexible international health insurance that covers all relevant medical expenses appropriate to age and health status,  particularly in countries with high medical costs.

Real estate focus: which are the world’s most expensive cities in terms of housing?

Monaco remains the most expensive country in the world to buy and rent real estate. While the average price per square metre to buy a property is €48,800,  rental costs for a three-bedroom flat in Monte Carlo is about €15,000 per month. But in the city-state, the property market focuses mainly  on luxury real estate and wealthy buyers…

Overall, Hong Kong regularly appears at the top of the list of the world’s most expensive cities in terms of housing costs. To live in the city centre, you will have to spend about €4,200 per month for a three-bedroom flat and €30,238 per square metre to  purchase an apartment. London, the most expensive city in which to buy an apartment in Europe, is, followed by Paris, New York and Singapore, where the average price per square metre is around €12,000.

In conclusion, Hong Kong, Geneva and Singapore remain at the top 10 of the world’s most expensive cities, considering in particular the costs generated by housing, health, transport and food.

Discover some of these countries!

Find below some country guides related to the countries mentioned in this blog post 😉

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