The 25 Most Expensive Cities in the World to Live In
History seems to point out that we’ve been nomads for far longer than we’ve been living in the same place, so moving around is something that comes naturally for most of us. And that’s a thing that the modern world, and recent global events, is making more accessible.
Whether you’re working in the digital space and want to wander around the world one city at a time or looking for a better place to live in, there’s a wide range of beautiful places and diverse cultures in which you could feel at home.
Large and incredibly diverse, the best cities in the world to live in are also among the most expensive. But if it makes you happy and have the means to live and work there, at least for a while, why not?
So let’s find out which are the 25 most expensive cities in the world right now. The ranking was determined by Mercer in a 2022 cost of living study, by comparing the prices of housing, food, transportation, and various other expenses.
- 25. Amsterdam, Netherlands
- 24. Libreville, Gabon
- 23. Bangui, Central African Republic
- 22. Qingdao, China
- 21. Vienna, Austria
- 20. Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
- 19. San Francisco, United States
- 18. Guangzhou, China
- 17. Los Angeles, California
- 16. Nassau, Bahamas
- 15. London, England
- 14. Seoul, South Korea
- 13. Shenzhen, China
- 12. Shanghai, China
- 11. Copenhagen, Denmark
- 10. Beijing, China
- 9. Tokyo, Japan
- 8. Singapore, Singapore
- 7. New York City, United States
- 6. Tel-Aviv, Israel
- 5. Bern, Switzerland
- 4. Basel, Switzerland
- 3. Geneva, Switzerland
- 2. Zürich, Switzerland
- 1. Hong Kong, China
25. Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands is an amazing country, and its capital Amsterdam shares all the characteristics that make the country great, plus other unique traits that make it loved by people from all over the world.
The astonishing architecture reflecting itself in the famous canals of the city, plus its rich culture, with numerous art museums and venues, and a very lively nightlife, make Amsterdam a heaven for those who appreciate a peaceful city with a rich history and an attractive character.
Living in Amsterdam means you’d need almost $5,000 to make a living with a family of four. It’s one of the most expensive places to live in Europe after all.
24. Libreville, Gabon
Gabon might not be a country most people would ever think about for an alternative place to call home, but Libreville, its capital and largest city, provides plenty of interesting opportunities.
There’s a popular university, library and research institutes, and it’s considered a big education hub for the country. But the interest that it’s garnered has also made it one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in.
23. Bangui, Central African Republic
Another surprise in this list is Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic, a thriving city that’s now the most expensive place to live in Africa.
A port city, it’s got a big commercial community and plenty of things to offer, like cheaper housing, but it’s extremely expensive when it comes to services and other amenities you’d need to live there.
22. Qingdao, China
China’s Qingdao is one of the country’s most exciting up and coming cities. With no less than 177 ports, the city’s economy is strong, and the wonderful beaches, parks, and the skyscrapers should please almost anybody.
It even has its very own international beer festival, which draws tourists from all over the world every year.
21. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is one of the most well known tourist destinations in the world, and it has also been named the world’s most livable city for so many years.
Austria’s capital boasts with fine art and architecture, a lively music scene, and the quality of life there exceeds any other city in the world. On the other hand though, the growing influx of people has driven the housing market to very high levels.
20. Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
With a monthly cost of around $5,000 for a family of four, without the rent, Honolulu, Hawaii easily makes it on the list of the most expensive places in the world to live in.
Everything’s higher there than the national average, with housing expenses being 215% higher, but there’s no denying that it’s also one of the most interesting places in the world as well.
19. San Francisco, United States
San Francisco, California, is one of US West Coast’s best places to live in, a place of good times and trend setting movements, from the gold rush of times past to the modern hippies.
The city has no less than 48 hills, so wandering its streets is never going to be boring. But for that, you’d need to make about $100,000 a year, which isn’t low by any standards.
18. Guangzhou, China
China’s Guangzhou is considered a mega city. It’s one of the most sought after by the world’s top companies, with 120 of them having opened headquarters there, and more than half of the top 500 worldwide having investments there.
It’s the largest city after Beijing and Shanghai, so it makes sense for people to be wanting to live there.
17. Los Angeles, California
One of the most glamorous cities in the world, Los Angeles is on many people’s bucket lists and dreams, yet few manage to make their dream come true, and that’s mostly because life there costs a lot.
Not only the housing market is extremely competitive, but residents get to pay high taxes as well, not to mention all the other extras you need to live there.
16. Nassau, Bahamas
The Bahamas have always had an attractiveness to tourists from all over the world. But if you ever plan on living there, choose – or stay away from – Nassau, the capital city.
The city is very expensive to live in, with locals paying upwards of $4,500 per month there. That’s for a family of four, without rent.
If you have the hefty monthly budget, there’s a lot to see and do there, with places such as the Atlantis Paradise Island, the Nassau Straw Market, or the Ardastra Garden & Wildlife Conservation Centre being some of the many attractions.
15. London, England
London is another bustling city, one of the world’s most famous places to move to, especially for people from Europe.
If you’re not put down by the high costs of life, there’s a huge world to explore in London, from the many touristic attractions to the underground scene, so rewards are high for the price you pay.
14. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a wonderful mix of old and modern, with temples and skyscrapers, high tech subways and fervent street markets, art and culture and its many other hidden gems.
The only thing Seoul isn’t is cheap. Living expenses are high, and one would need about $1,500 on average to live there.
13. Shenzhen, China
Shenzhen is China’s city that’s most popular among the younger generations. It’s a city with a thriving economy, and given the fact that the average age is 32.1 years old, you might expect that it’s going to become even better in the following years from an economic point of view.
Living there is very expensive, with food and rent costing the most, but there are some perks like inexpensive internet and utilities.
12. Shanghai, China
Being home to numerous businesses and billionaires – the sixth largest concentration of billionaires worldwide, you can easily expect everything to be very expensive in Shanghai, China’s biggest city and global financial hub.
But that doesn’t stop people to move there, which in turn drives all the prices up even more. You can’t blame anybody, because the city really does have a lot to offer, from its incredible skyline to the rich culture and history.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is Denmark’s and one of Europe’s most colorful cities. The stunning architecture that reflects its beauty in the many canals that cross the city, the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe, and the many parks and squares and places to wander peacefully, are just some of the things that draw people there both for short vacations and long term living.
Both options are extremely expensive, so expect between $100 and $200 a day if you’re a tourist, and at least $1000 a month without rent to live there. And rent is definitely expensive in Copenhagen.
10. Beijing, China
Beijing is the 10th most expensive city in the world, and that’s especially due to growing housing costs, with rents that have grown to be at least $700 for a one bedroom apartment.
It’s logical when you think it has the fastest growing population in China, so the housing demand is high and continues to increase.
9. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan, is one of the most interesting places to live in, both for its stunning location in the vicinity of Mount Fuji and for its unique culture.
Japan is known for its high prices in general, but its capital, Tokyo, scores even higher prices, especially for rent, transportation and car ownership.
8. Singapore, Singapore
Singapore is one of those places where land scarcity combined with the increasing demand drives housing prices very high. Natural resources are also little, which means more import and therefore, higher prices in that sector as well.
On the other hand, it’s an incredible blend of manmade and natural attractions, a true concrete jungle with living green skyscrapers, and has one of the most efficient public transport systems in the whole world.
7. New York City, United States
Everybody around the world has heard about New York City. And everybody knows New York City is extremely expensive. But there’s something about the Big Apple that draws people there.
Full of eye candy for urban wanderers, New York impresses its visitors with many wonders, bold old and modern. We don’t even have to mention the numerous opportunities you have here.
6. Tel-Aviv, Israel
Another wonder of the world, Israel’s capital, Tel-Aviv has something – expensive – to offer to everyone, from jaw-dropping beaches to delicious cuisine and lively nightlife.
Beyond all the stereotypes, Tel-Aviv is an interesting and diverse place that welcomes people from all over the world, and it’s a very friendly one as well. Minus the rent there, which isn’t friendly at all, with price tags for a one bedroom apartment rising to well over $1,500.
5. Bern, Switzerland
Switzerland is known for being one of the most expensive countries to live in, but it’s also one of the most beautiful, set right in the heart of Europe. Its capital, Bern, is a stunning blend of medieval times architecture and an extremely rich history.
Extreme is also the world that characterizes living costs there, with $2,500 as the monthly price tag for someone who wants to move there.
4. Basel, Switzerland
It’s no wonder that Switzerland occupies the top places of this list, with Basel coming next after its capital city.
Basel is an university city, the oldest in country, and its stunning location on the Rhine River, historical architecture mixed with modern buildings and great art scene make it impressive enough for people to live there despite the $3,000 per month costs.
3. Geneva, Switzerland
The city of Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland and one of the most luxurious in the world. It’s well known for being home to the tallest water fountain in the world, deluxe cafes, and some of the most impressive shopping opportunities.
But all that comes at a very high cost, with basic monthly expenses there, covering rent, food, and transportation, rising to around $3,500. And that’s the average.
2. Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich is stunning, and nobody can deny that, but it’s also one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, with an average monthly rent costing one person around $2,000 there.
The city is very attractive, with its vibrant culture and high end shopping venues. It’s also known as the financial capital of the country, but that only reinforces the high costs of living there.
1. Hong Kong, China
With a population of more than 7.5 million people, Hong Kong sees a huge demand for housing, which naturally drives rent prices to exorbitant prices, which is why it tops the list of the most expensive cities in the world to live in today.
The city has a lot to offer, from its legendary skyline to the rich and protected natural environment, delicious cuisine and wonderful traditions.
It’s simply enchanting, but it’s also the costliest to live there.
It’s a well known fact that big city life is expensive. But that’s even more obvious when you think of the most sought after places to live in. They’ve got a lot more to offer, from work to fun and everything in between, with countless opportunities to live a fulfilling life.
But what drives people there also makes them extremely expensive, with prices so high that most people can’t even afford a short vacation there, not to mention moving and living there.