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The 10 Most Expensive Places to Live in the World

Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit, an offshoot of news magazine The Economist, releases a ranking of the most expensive cities in the world. Researchers dive into the everyday expenses associated with living in each place — groceries, household supplies, personal care, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, domestic help, recreation, transportation, and utilities — to look beyond the basics of international economies. Notably, they leave housing off the list.

With most of these cities, you’re paying a premium for cultural prestige, but it’s not the only factor at work. These cities are centers of high-paying industries or major players on the international stage, and sometimes even have unique problems with international trade that affect everyday expenses. Here are the 10 cities The Economist ranks as the most expensive in the world as of 2023.

Singapore

Singapore is small — its entire landmass is smaller than New York City, and you can drive across it in less than an hour — but it’s home to the busiest port in Southeast Asia. This means the little space that’s available is in high demand, without a lot of room for infrastructure or agriculture, leaving it dependent on other countries for even basic resources such as power, food, and water. Transportation costs factor into the EIU rankings, and while not very many people own a car in Singapore, those who do pay a premium for the road space. Would-be drivers need to bid on a limited number of certificates to even buy a car, and they go for more than $100,000 each.

Zurich

Zurich got a little boost this year because of the strength of the Swiss franc, since EIU’s rankings convert local prices into United States dollars, but that’s on top of an already high cost of living. It was already a major banking center before Google built its rapidly expanding“engineering hub” there, which has brought in highly qualified expats — Switzerland has tax privileges that make importing new talent easier — with salaries to match.

Geneva

Geneva is an epicenter of international collaboration; many United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and a wealth of other international groups are headquartered there, and it’s a major hub of international trade. Living here, or even just visiting, doesn’t come cheap, although apparently the U.N. cafeteria has some great deals.

New York City

New York is notoriously expensive; purchasing power is so low that according to one calculation, $75,000 in Manhattan money is equivalent to $177,471 in Dallas. More than 100 billionaires live in the city. Private preschools and kindergartens can have Ivy League-level tuition. New Yorkers own far fewer cars than other urban residents, but if you have one, you can expect to pay more than $600 a month for garage space.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, like many major cities, is seeing heavy gentrification — and while the EIU rankings don’t directly factor in housing costs, having one of the most expensive housing markets in the world certainly doesn’t help. The sky-high cost of living extends to groceries, too; a box of blueberries can go for $17.

Los Angeles

Hong Kong, like many major cities, is seeing heavy gentrification — and while the EIU rankings don’t directly factor in housing costs, having one of the most expensive housing markets in the world certainly doesn’t help. The sky-high cost of living extends to groceries, too; a box of blueberries can go for $17.

Paris

Hong Kong, like many major cities, is seeing heavy gentrification — and while the EIU rankings don’t directly factor in housing costs, having one of the most expensive housing markets in the world certainly doesn’t help. The sky-high cost of living extends to groceries, too; a box of blueberries can go for $17.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen, the capital and largest city in Denmark, might seem expensive on its surface — particularly for its extremely high taxes. But the tradeoff for citizens is vast, with a robust social safety net, high standard of living, and free education through university. Government services include housing allowances, paid parental leave, health care, state retirement pensions, and subsidized day care.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv topped EIU’s list of most expensive cities a few years ago, when Israel’s currency, the shekel, reached its highest valuation against the United States dollar in 20 years. Everyday expenses, like restaurants and gas, have gotten more expensive, compounding already complicated business and supply chain issues endemic to the country, including a lack of competition and import restrictions.

San Francisco

The only thing surprising about San Francisco being on this list is that it’s not closer to the top. In the last couple of decades, the city has become a tech metropolis, driving up the costs of everything from utility bills to food — which are both around 30% higher than the national average.

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