The most expensive cities in the world have been revealed – and the No. 1 spot belongs not to one singly city, but to three destinations.
Hong Kong, Singapore and Osaka are joint leaders on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.
France’s capital city, which has been one of the top 10 since 2003, moved up this year, while last year’s fourth most expensive city, Hong Kong, jumped up three positions, leading to a tie at the top for the first time.
The bi-annual survey, which evaluates the cost of over 160 goods and services in 133 cities around the world, has been carried out for more than 30 years.
Rises and falls
The French capital dropped down to fifth place, equal with another European city, Switzerland’s Zurich.
Japan’s Osaka moved up six positions, and now shares fifth place with Switzerland’s Geneva.
New York and Los Angeles are the only North American cities in the top 10, with the Big Apple rising six spots to joint seventh place, a position it shares with Denmark’s Copenhagen.
The City of Angels (LA) was named the 10th most expensive city in the world, along with Israel’s Tel Aviv.
A strong US dollar meant 15 out of the 16 US cities surveyed climbed up the rankings this year.
Over in Europe, Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva, coming in at fourth and joint fifth (with Osaka) respectively, had the highest costs when it came to household, personal care, recreation and entertainment expenses.
However, Copenhagen’s high ranking, joint seventh (along with Seoul), was thought to be due to relatively high transportation, recreation and personal care costs.
Meanwhile Turkey’s Istanbul has become considerably less expensive, dropping 48 places to joint 120th on the list — due in part to the decrease in value of Turkish lira.
Uzbekistan’s Tashkent also experienced a big drop, falling 19 places to 131st, while Moscow is down 16 spots to 102nd.
Moving up the list is Bulgarian capital Sofia, which has climbed 29 spots to shared 90th position, thanks to an increase in the price of groceries, utilities and recreation.
The cost of living in the UK has also increased. A surge in domestic prices, pushing London up eight positions to joint 22nd, is a main factor.
San Francisco has also become a more expensive place to live, rising 12 positions to 25th place.
“We note converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities like Paris, Singapore, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Hong Kong. It is a testament to globalization and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns,” says Roxana Slavcheva, editor of the survey.
“More remarkable is the severe fall in the ranking of emerging economy cities – Istanbul, Tashkent, Moscow and St. Petersburg – owing to sustained high inflations and currency depreciations.”
Unsurprisingly, the cheapest cities to live in were largely made up of those experiencing well-documented political or economic disruption (or both in same cases).
Caracas, Venezuela’s capital was at the very bottom of the list this year, a position previously occupied by war-torn Syria in Damascus for obvious reasons.
Deteriorating economic conditions in Venezuela and hyperinflation are at the root of its downward-trending position down the list.
Syria is ranked just above Caracas at 132nd place, while Nigeria’s Lagos ties with Pakistan’s Karachi at 127th place.
World’s most expensive cities to live in 2020:
1. (tie) Singapore
1. (tie) Osaka, Japan
1. (tie) Hong Kong
4. New York City, New York
5. (tie) Paris
5. (tie) Zurich, Switzerland
7. (tie) Seoul, South Korea
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
7. (tie) New York
10. (tie) Tel Aviv, Israel
8. (tie) Los Angeles, California