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Living in these 20 Most Expensive Cities Will Break the Bank

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By Alessia Barranca


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According to Time Out Magazine, if you are considering a lifestyle change and want to move to a new city, New York, Cape Town, and Berlin are among the top three. But, when it comes to moving somewhere new, it is not about where the trendiest place to live is; it is where you can afford to lay down new roots. We take a look at the 20 most expensive cities in the world right now to help you make a decision:


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Land is scarce in Singapore, so renting or buying an apartment can be expensive. Food, energy, and transportation can also be expensive as the country aims to maintain a high standard of living and taxes residents accordingly. However, Singapore offers high salaries in most sectors, so if you can secure a good job, you can offset the cost of living. 


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​​Paris consistently ranks high in cost of living surveys, with housing being the primary expense for residents. Like Singapore, Paris experiences high demand for housing, but there is little space to cater to all who want to live there, leaving many people moving just outside the city. Clothing, entertainment, and some leisure activities can also be more expensive in Paris compared to many other places in France. 


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As in all the most expensive places to live, housing comes out on top of people’s outgoings. In Zurich, food is also much more expensive than in other parts of Switzerland and the rest of the world. Groceries and dining out, particularly at restaurants, can be expensive, and Imported goods can be costly.

Hong Kong

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According to ECA International’s Cost of Living research, Hong Kong was the most expensive city in the world in December 2022, but it has since moved down a few places. Property prices are very high compared to many other cities, and eating out is another significant expense for residents.


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Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, with transport, housing, energy prices, and groceries far exceeding the costs of most other cities. For long-term residents on a high salary, the cost of living is manageable, but it can be a struggle for new residents. 


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Geneva is another Swiss city with a high cost of living, mainly due to housing demand. Living in a central area, eating out frequently, and enjoying expensive leisure activities will be more expensive than living in a suburban area. So, if you want to move there, research the cheapest areas. 


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Compared to the global average, Seoul can be considered an expensive city. While not as expensive as other Asian cities like Singapore and Tokyo, renting and buying houses is in high demand, driving prices up. If you are happy to eat local food, you can save money on the cost of living.


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Another European city in the top ten most expensive countries is Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. This hipster hangout is favored by families and young couples who love the laid-back culture and can afford steep rents and expensive meals. 

Tel Aviv

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While still in the top ten most expensive cities, Tel Aviv is less expensive than it was five years ago. Renting or buying an apartment can be expensive in Tel Aviv, particularly in central locations. Many believe the high prices are worth it as the city offers a vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and a high quality of life.


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Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia and is in the top ten in the world. Sydney offers high salaries in specific sectors, which can help offset some residents’ living costs. The city boasts a high quality of life with beautiful beaches, a vibrant culture, and a pleasant climate, so people are drawn there despite the cost. 


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Tokyo’s housing market is in high demand so that rents can be high, and it isn’t easy to buy. You will need approximately $1,800 – USD 2,700 to live comfortably in Tokyo.


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Another expensive Japanese city is Osaka. While it is more affordable than Tokyo, much of your wages will be spent on rent and utilities. However, food and transport are generally less expensive, and you can look forward to a slightly more relaxed pace of life.

San Francisco

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A hub for innovation and technology, San Francisco offers a dynamic environment. But this dynamism comes at a cost, with housing prices reaching astronomical figures and pushing the overall cost of living to a significant level.

New York

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The Big Apple needs no introduction. From Broadway shows to iconic landmarks, New York offers endless excitement. However, that excitement comes with a price, with housing costs being significant for residents. Food prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, with eating out particularly expensive.

Los Angeles

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Another city in the U.S. that made the top 20 most expensive cities is Los Angeles. LA life is fun and action-packed, but you will need a lot of cash to enjoy it fully. The average rent in LA is $2,500, with a studio apartment at approximately $2,376 per month. 


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London is the UK’s most expensive city, with most residents paying high rent for often tiny spaces. This desirability attracts many people who want to live and work there, driving up demand for housing and other resources.


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While not the most expensive city globally, Dubai sits comfortably in the higher range, with most people only being able to afford to rent instead of buy. Central locations like Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina can be costly, even for people with high salaries.


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Like many Swiss cities, Bern needs more housing, so, as we have discussed, it is becoming nearly as expensive as Zurich and Geneva. Bern’s status as Switzerland’s capital city and its picturesque setting make it a desirable place to live, but beauty comes at a very steep cost.


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Shanghai is a central financial hub and a significant contributor to China’s booming economy. This attracts businesses and wealthy individuals, driving up demand for housing and other resources.


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China’s economic boom in the past few decades led to a surge in investment and development in Beijing. Due to the large population in the city, land availability is limited, especially in central areas. The constant influx further fuels the demand for housing and contributes to higher costs.