Most Expensive Cities in the World | Updated in December 2022

Living in big and famous cities…Historic monuments, amazing architecture, museums, a broad variety of cuisine and drink, and so much more are usually right at your fingertips. After all, the world’s most popular cities, such as Paris, France, Shanghai, China, and even Boston, Massachusetts, are coveted for a reason. However, living in a big city comes at a cost…

Mercer’s Cost of Living study in 2022 evaluates the prices of housing, transportation, food, clothing, and other items to determine the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

Check out the most expensive cities in the globe that make the list if you’re looking for a new place to settle down, need some vacation inspiration, or are simply curious.

The Most Expensive Cities in the World

1st Hong Kong
2nd Zurich
3rd Geneva
4th Basel
5th Bern
6th Tel Aviv
7th New York
8th Singapore
9th Tokyo
10th Beijing

The 10 most expensive cities in the world, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking 2022, are shown below. We’ve also included a section on living expenses based on Numbeo data. Please keep in mind that these data are subject to change, which is why we recommend conducting a comprehensive study when deciding to relocate to a specific place. In addition, we’ve converted the local currencies to US dollars.

1. Hong Kong

Asia dominates the list of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in, so it’s no surprise that Hong Kong takes the top spot. Hong Kong is noted for drawing some of the world’s most successful and wealthiest businessmen, as well as thousands of expats.

It’s not so much the expense of rent as it is the competitive demand for housing and all the activities the city has to offer, such as its numerous markets, nightlife, and sights, that make it the world’s priciest city.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $2,200
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,619

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $5.10
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $7.64
Cappuccino: $5.02
Beer: $6.34

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $3.04
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $2.24
Eggs (12): $3.41
Banana (1kg): $2.54

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $196
Internet: $22

Hong Kong

2. Zurich

With just one look at Zürich, you can tell why it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The financial capital, located at the northern end of Lake Zurich, is known for its waterfront promenades, high-end shopping, and exquisite chocolate. It is also the most expensive city in Switzerland to find a house to rent.

Zurich does have a reputation for being an expensive city. This is true for both regular living expenses and real estate. Fortunately, the net pay is among the highest in the world, and there are lots of job positions for foreigners.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,913
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,494

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $15.16
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $25.27
Cappuccino: $5.28
Beer: $7

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.71
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $3.04
Eggs (12): $5.60
Banana (1kg): $2.83

Utilities (Monthly)

Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $241
Internet: $48

Zurich

3. Geneva

Geneva, known for the Jet d’Eau, the world’s biggest water fountain, is a city with dozens of luxury cafés and shopping for days. But all of that luxury comes at a great cost. Yes, Geneva is an expensive city but the high expense of living doesn’t deter people from relocating to Geneva; over 40 percent of all residents in Geneva do not hold a Swiss passport, making Geneva one of the most international cities in the world.

Geneva is a lovely city with a lot to offer and this is why many foreigners opt to reside there. Despite its high cost of living, the city provides a high standard of living.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,913
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,494

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $15.16
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $25.27
Cappuccino: $5.28
Beer: $7.08

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.57
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $2.71
Eggs (12): $5.35
Banana (1kg): $2.56

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $184
Internet: $53

Geneva

4. Basel

Basel, Switzerland’s oldest university city, is located on the Rhine River, close to the country’s borders with France and Germany, and hosts the world’s largest art market every June.

Basel is a green city where you may enjoy sports, games, and relaxation all year long in small neighborhood oases and city parks. But everything comes with a price and this gorgeous city is the fourth most expensive city to live in the world.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,391
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,148

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $16.17
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $25.27
Cappuccino: $5.23
Beer: $6.07

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.67
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $3.19
Eggs (12): $5.67
Banana (1kg): $2.56

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $271
Internet: $50

Basel

5. Bern

Bern, Switzerland’s capital city, is another city that always finds a spot in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world list. Bern is famous for its medieval architecture, fountains, and rich history and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite its small-town atmosphere, Bern is unlikely to be the most affordable place you’ve ever lived. Having said that, it is significantly less expensive than both Zurich and Geneva, while being within easy reach of both. Bern also provides a good selection of housing options both within the city and within the surrounding metropolitan area.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,200
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $935

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $15.16
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $25.27
Cappuccino: $5.23
Beer: $6.07

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.58
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $2.72
Eggs (12): $5.84
Banana (1kg): $2.87

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $197
Internet: $51

Bern

6. Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has it all, from beautiful beaches to lively nightlife and world-class restaurants. However, all of that fun comes at a high cost. Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, has a reputation for being not just vibrant but also one of the most expensive cities, even for those whose income is dollars, euros, or other major currencies.

You can always expect to pay high rent in Tel Aviv. This is one of Israel’s most popular tourist destinations, and its standards are comparable to those of more expensive European cities such as Rome or Paris. So, regardless of where you live in Tel Aviv, the same flat would cost far more than in any other city in Israel.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,625
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,270

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $15.36
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $18.15
Cappuccino: $3.95
Beer: $8.94

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.69
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $2.50
Eggs (12): $3.77
Banana (1kg): $2.22

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $261
Internet: $29

Tel Aviv

7. New York

New York is the only North American city to make the top 10 expensive cities list. This city is the land of opportunities, attracting individuals from the United States and the rest of the world, all competing to establish a name for themselves in the city. As a result, it’s no surprise that living in New York City is so expensive!

Moving to New York City is an excellent decision if you are looking for better work prospects or a new experience. There is never a dull moment in this city, which has a wealth of cultural sites and never-ending entertainment opportunities. Whether or not the expense is worthwhile depends on where you choose to live in the city and what type of job you have.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $2,941
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $2,359

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $10
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $25
Cappuccino: $5.30
Beer: $8

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.21
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $4
Eggs (12): $4
Banana (1kg): $2.62

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $175
Internet: $68

New York

8. Singapore

Singapore is known as one of the most expensive cities in Asia. The land is extremely rare due to the small size of the country. Furthermore, as demand for real estate has soared, supply has been constrained, making the real estate market extremely competitive. In addition, Singapore has few natural resources and must rely on ports to import essential requirements such as water and natural gas energy.

Singapore is recognized as a global financial hub, which is why it is such a popular destination for digital nomads and expat employees from the United States and the United Kingdom. However, the expenses of renting and purchasing a home in Singapore are higher.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $2,310
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $1,669

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $5.58
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $10.46
Cappuccino: $4.08
Beer: $6.97

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $2.27
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $1.27
Eggs (12): $2.52
Banana (1kg): $2.33

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $130
Internet: $31.87

Singapore

9. Tokyo

Japan is well-known for its high living costs, particularly in Tokyo. As a vibrant metropolis that is consistently ranked among the world’s top ten most expensive cities, most residents spend a lot of money on high rent prices, followed by automobile ownership and transportation.

However living in Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, means experiencing one of the world’s most active cities. This city of over 10 million people is known for its rich culture, amazing gastronomy, efficient transit, and friendly people.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,050
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $600

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $4.83
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $6.90
Cappuccino: $3.18
Beer: $3.93

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $1.31
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $1.54
Eggs (12): $1.79
Banana (1kg): $2.87

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $154
Internet: $31.43

Tokyo

10. Beijing

Unlike most Chinese cities, Beijing is around the same price as many European capitals, especially for expats who are accustomed to a high level of comfort and insist on buying imported products. Fortunately, foreigners in Beijing tend to earn pretty well, which usually offsets the high expense of living.

When compared to other Chinese cities, Beijing’s rent is high, and expats may expect to pay a significant portion of their earnings for residences in and around the city center. Accommodation on the outskirts of the city is significantly cheaper, especially if you live with roommates to further reduce costs.

Cost of Living

Accommodation
One-bedroom apartment in the city center: $1,200
One-bedroom apartment outside the city center: $672

Restaurants
McMeal at McDonald’s: $5.62
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $4.22
Cappuccino: $4.55
Beer: $4.08

Markets
Milk (1 liter): $2
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g): $2.08
Eggs (12): $1.79
Banana (1kg): $2.87

Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage): $55
Internet: $21

Beijing

Most Expensive Cities: The Wrap Up

There you have it…Most expensive cities to live in the world. In addition to reviewing more than 200 goods and services, Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey highlights critical aspects in determining the cost of packages for internationally mobile personnel, such as currency volatility, cost inflation, and accommodation price instability. The study, which is conducted twice a year, is intended to assist multinational corporations and governments around the world in determining compensation policies for their foreign workers and expatriate personnel.

Have you ever been to these expensive cities? Are you planning to? Let us know…

Source: Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2022

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