Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong: The Economist names the world’s most expensive cities

author-avatar By on March 19, 2019
Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong: The Economist names the world’s most expensive cities

Photo by Chris Karidis on Unsplash

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2019 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey reveals how Australian cities compare to the rest of the world when it comes to the cost of living.

The Economist ranks 133 cities across 93 counties for the prices of 160 products and services, and provides a score against New York City, which is indexed to 100.

For the first time there are three cities that share the undesirable title of the world’s most expensive city – Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong are all tied at 107 points.

Australia’s five biggest cities were included in the survey, as were Auckland and Wellington, with Sydney unsurprisingly ranking as the most expensive Australian city with a score of 89.

However, this wasn’t enough to place it inside the top 10, coming in at 16th overall. This is a -6 change from the 2018 report.

Perth meanwhile is the cheapest of Australia’s capital cities, ranking 64th in the world.

It also placed inside the top 10 for ranking changes in the past 12 months, as did Adelaide, with both cities falling 11 places down the rankings.

The full report noted the weakening Australian dollar was the biggest cause of the falls in our cities’ rankings – over the past year our dollar has fallen six cents to the US dollar.

Here’s the full list comparing Australian cities.

CountryCityWCOL index (New York=100)RankRank movement
Australia Sydney 89 16 -6
Australia Melbourne 86 22 -8
New Zealand Auckland 79 38 -14
Australia Brisbane 78 41 -15
New Zealand Wellington 78 41 -17
Australia Adelaide 75 51 -21
Australia Perth 69 64 -18

Source: The Economist 

The 10 most expensive cities

Singapore is once again the most expensive city in the world to live in, but this time it’s joined by Paris and Hong Kong.

Switzerland occupies 4th and joint fifth spot alongside Osaka in Japan, while Seoul, Copenhagen, New York, LA and Tel Aviv in Israel round out the top 10.

The report noted that countries with appreciating currencies, such as the US, saw significant climbs in its cities.

“These movements represent a sharp increase in the relative cost of living compared with five years ago, when New York and Los Angeles tied in 39th position,” it said. 

Overall there were four Asian countries in the top 10, and three from Scandinavia, which follows the Nordic model of high taxes on its citizens.

CountryCityWCOL index (New York=100)RankRank movement
Singapore Singapore 107 = 1 0
France Paris 107 = 1 1
China Hong Kong 107 = 1 3
Switzerland Zurich 106 4 -2
Switzerland Geneva 101 = 5 1
Japan Osaka 101 = 5                       6
South Korea Seoul 100 = 7                        -1
Denmark Copenhagen 100 = 7 1
US New York 100 = 7 6
Israel Tel Aviv 99 = 10 -1
US Los Angeles 99 = 10 4

Source: The Economist 

The 10 cheapest cities

Along with occupying many of the top 10 spots, Asia used to dominate the top 10 spots for cheapest cities, but not anymore.

A lot of the 10 cheapest cities belong to countries undergoing significant economic or political instability – Caracas in Venezuela occupies the top spot after a disastrous 2018 and early 2019, which saw hyperinflation run rampant and a military coup take place.

Damascas in Syria – last year’s number one – slips down to second spot with a score of 25, which is still significantly higher than Caracas’s score.

This is despite inflation averaging at an estimated 28% during 2017 and a near constant drop in the Syrian pound since the onset of war in 2011.

India and Pakistan occupy four of these spots.

CountryCityWCOL index (New York=100)RankRank movement
Venezuela Caracas 15 133 -1
Syria Damascus 25 132 1
Uzbekistan Tashkent 33 131 -19
Kazakhstan Almaty 35 130 1
India Bangalore 39 129 0
Pakistan Karachi 40 = 127 0
Nigeria Lagos 40 = 127 3
Argentina Buenos Aires 41 = 125 -48
India Chennai 41 = 125 1
India New Delhi 43 123 1

Source: The Economist 


For feedback or queries, email will.jolly@savings.com.au

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William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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