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It seems like every month when household bills come due, we grumble about how the cost of living has gone up again.
But it’s not just anecdotal. According to this year’s Worldwide Cost of Living Index, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the average cost of living is up 8.1% in 2022, owing to the Russian war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the pandemic.
In other words – no, it’s not just you.
“The war in Ukraine, Western sanctions on Russia and China’s zero-Covid policies have caused supply-chain problems that, combined with rising interest rates and exchange-rate shifts, have resulted in a cost-of-living crisis across the world,” Upasana Dutt, head of worldwide cost of living at EIU, said in a media statement.
She added: “We can clearly see the impact in this year’s index, with the average price rise across the 172 cities in our survey being the strongest we’ve seen in the 20 years for which we have digital data. The rise in petrol prices in cities was particularly strong (as it was last year), but food, utilities and household goods are all getting more expensive for city-dwellers.”
So, in an expensive year, what are the most expensive cities to live in?
Europe in transition
The EIU, which tracks everyday expenses in 172 cities around the world, is based in London. The British capital fell significantly down the list this year, landing in 27th place.
There were four European cities in the top 10 – Zurich (sixth place) was the highest, with Paris, Copenhagen and fellow Swiss city Geneva rounding out the rest.
The most significant cause of price upticks in western Europe was increasing gas prices, the result of the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine and the region trying to find alternate sources of gas. The cost of one liter of gasoline has gone up a whopping 22% compared to this period last year.
Unsurprisingly, Russian cities Moscow and St. Petersburg both saw significant hikes in cost of living expenses, while Ukraine capital Kyiv was not analyzed this year.
In addition to gas costs, one factor cited by the EIU was the uneven value of the Euro, which is used by some but not all of the European cities on this year’s list – the UK is on the pound, and Switzerland has the franc.
Three other cities in Europe – Stockholm, Lyon and Luxembourg – also declined on the list.
A first-ever winner
Although it seems like New York City should have topped the list by now, this is the first time the biggest city in the US has landed in first place – albeit in a tie with frequent winner Singapore.
In 2021’s accounting, New York was in sixth place.
Two other American metropolises also made the top 10 – Los Angeles in a tie for fourth place with Hong Kong and San Francisco in eighth.
In total, 22 of the 172 cities the EIU tracks annually are in the US, including Portland, Boston, Chicago and Charlotte. Every single one of those 22 experienced a rise in inflation this year.
Meanwhile, last year’s winner, Tel Aviv, fell to third place.
How the list is made
In order to create the list, the EIU compares more than 400 individual prices across more than 200 products and services in 172 cities. They survey a range of businesses, both high and low end, to get a sense of how much prices have fluctuated over the past year.
Another company, the global mobility firm ECA International, publishes its own rankings of the world’s priciest cities every year. The ECA list uses slightly different methodology, looking at everyday expenses like rent and the cost of public transit and does not include luxury products in its calculations.
Its list, published in June, awarded Hong Kong the title of most expensive city for the third year straight and New York in second. However, the ECA’s list leans heavily toward big cities in Asia, as Seoul, Shanghai and other East Asian urban centers all landed in the top 10.
The EIU list is benchmarked against prices in New York City, hence cities with currencies that are stronger against the US dollar are likely to appear higher in the rankings.
The world’s 10 most expensive cities to live in 2022
1. New York and Singapore (tie)
3. Tel Aviv, Israel
4. Hong Kong and Los Angeles (tie)
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Geneva, Switzerland
8. San Francisco, California
9. Paris, France
10. Copenhagen, Denmark