Global Rankings

World’s Most Expensive Cities in 2019

Singapore, Hong Kong, and Paris are the three most expensive cities to visit and live in for the year 2019, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. They are followed by the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva, and Japan’s Osaka. New York and Los Angeles are also among the ten costliest cities for 2019.

The Worldwide Cost of Living survey includes 133 cities worldwide.  It is only the first time in the survey’s history that the top rank is shared by three cities.

Ten Most Expensive Cities for 2019

The ten most expensive cities included in the survey are all found in Asia, Europe, or North America. They are ranked, along with their index scores, as follows.

  • Singapore – 107
  • Paris – 107
  • Hong Kong – 107
  • Zurich – 106
  • Geneva – 101
  • Osaka – 101
  • Seoul – 100
  • Copenhagen – 100
  • New York – 100
  • Tel Aviv – 99
  • Los Angeles – 99
Paris is jointly the most expensive city in the world in 2019

Two factors play an important role in determining these rankings: inflation and currency fluctuations. For example, a stronger US dollar has taken New York six places up, and Los Angeles four places up, from last year. Osaka also moved up six spots from its 2018 ranking, while Paris has risen from the seventh position in 2017 to be the joint most expensive city this year.

Most Expensive Cities by Category

European cities, such as Zurich and Geneva, tend to be the most expensive ones for household, personal care, and entertainment categories. Grocery shopping is most expensive in Asian cities, such as Osaka and Seoul.

Which cities are the cheapest in the world? Find out here.

The average current price for a 1kg loaf of bread is the highest in Seoul by some distance at $15.59. A two-piece men’s business suit costs the highest, on average, in New York at $2,730, followed by South Korea’s capital, Seoul ($2,074). New York is also the most expensive city for a women’s haircut at $210, followed by Copenhagen ($177) in Denmark.

South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is among the most expensive cities in the world in 2019

Cities Getting Costlier

The city of Noumea in the French territory of New Caledonia in South Pacific moved up 33 places from last year to become the 20th most expensive city. The rising prices in this city of barely 100,000 residents are partly explained by a lack of competition in many of the industries.

Find out which are the safest cities in the world here.

Other biggest movers up in the rankings for 2019 include Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, which climbed 29 ranks; Casablanca in Morocco, moving up 20 spots; Muscat (Oman), climbing 15 places; and Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Nairobi (Kenya), each ascending 13 places from last year’s rankings.

Noumea, New Caledonia’s capital and largest city, is fast rising in the cost-of-living index (Courtesy

Global Cost of Living   

Taking New York as the base city, the global cost of living has fallen to 60 percent this year from 73 percent last year. This represents a steep decline in the average cost of living in the surveyed cities, which stood at 89 percent ten years ago, and 82 percent five years ago. This is partly explained by the slow global economic growth, which is predicted to continue in the remaining 2019 and through 2020. Oil prices and the US-China trade war are among the most important factors predicted to affect growth and inflation in the year ahead.  

Ranking Methodology

The rankings are based on a bi-annual survey comparing over 400 individual prices for 160 goods and services in each of the 133 cities included in the survey. These include food, clothing, home rents, utility bills, transport, personal care items, recreation, and private schools. The gathered prices are then converted into the US dollar and are weighted identically across all cities to create a comparative index.

You can download the Worldwide Cost of Living 2019 report after registering on The Economist Intelligence Unit website.

4 replies »

    • It depends a lot on people’s purchasing power, I guess. On the other hand, even some of the cheapest cities would seem pretty expensive to their poorer residents.


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