The World’s Most Expensive (and cheapest) Cities in 2018

Singapore holds onto the title of the most expensive city in the world for the 5th year running, based on the latest survey results released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Paris and Zurich tied for 2nd, followed by Hong Kong and Oslo, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living report. The survey also ranked Seoul and Geneva in 6th place, while Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Sydney rounded out the top 10 rankings.

World Most Expensive Cities 2018

Low inflation has pushed Tokyo and Osaka out of the top 10 rank this year. The Japanese capital, which was the world’s most expensive city until 2013, has moved 7 places down the ranking (12th position) in the past 12 months. Besides Tokyo and Osaka, New York has moved 4 places down the ranking to 13th position owing to a weakening of the US dollar in 2017.

Meanwhile Tel Aviv, which was ranked 34th just 5 years ago, is now the 9th most expensive city in the survey. Currency appreciation played a part in this rise, but Tel Aviv also has some specific costs that drive up prices, such as buying, insuring and maintaining a car, which push transport costs up to 79%. Tel Aviv is also the second most expensive city to purchase alcohol, according to the survey.

Car ownership is the biggest contributing factor behind Singapore’s top ranking. It is also the 3rd priciest destination to purchase clothes.

Despite topping the ranking, Singapore still offers relative value in some categories, especially compared with its regional peers. Household goods and domestic help in Singapore is significantly cheaper than its peers.

In terms of food and drink, the cost of living in Singapore is on a par with that of Shanghai in China. Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong are the three most expensive places in the world to buy staple goods. In Seoul, topping up a grocery basket is almost 50% more expensive than in New York.

The World’s cheapest cities in 2018

Although Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive cities, it is home to many of the world’s cheapest cities too.

World's cheapest Cities 2018

Within Asia, the best value for money has traditionally been offered by South Asian cities, particularly in India and Pakistan. Based on the survey, Bangalore, Chennai, Karachi and New Delhi feature among the 10 most affordable cities.

Besides India and Pakistan, the Syrian capital of Damascus, Venezuela’s Caracas and Romania’s Bucharest were ranked the world’s cheapest this year.

Although the Indian subcontinent remains structurally cheap, instability is becoming an increasingly prominent factor in lowering the relative cost of living of a location. This means that there is a considerable element of risk in some of the world’s cheapest cities.

Karachi, Algiers, Almaty and Lagos have faced well-documented economic, political, security and infrastructural challenges. Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable, according to the EIU.

About the survey

The Worldwide Cost of Living is a biannual Economist Intelligence Unit survey designed to help compare the cost of living in over 130 cities around the world. The ranking draws upon a comprehensive underlying data set including over 400 individual price points across 160 goods and services in 90 countries. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transportation, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs. The survey are compared with a base city of New York, which has an index set at 100

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