Visualized: The Most (And Least) Expensive Cities To Live In

By U Cast Studios
March 1, 2023

Visualized: The Most (And Least) Expensive Cities To Live In
Image Courtesy Of Visual Capitalist
Infographic showing the Most and Least Expensive Cities in the world

There are many benefits to living in an iconic city like New York or Singapore, but the amenities and exclusivity can come at a high cost.

This article was written by Freny Fernandez and originally published by Visual Capitalist.

Cities become “expensive” due to a variety of factors such as high demand for housing, a concentration of high-paying businesses and industries, and a high standard of living. Additionally, factors such as taxes, transportation costs, and availability of goods and services can also contribute to the overall cost of living in global cities.

The infographic above uses data from EIU to rank the world most and least expensive cities to live in. To make the list, the EIU examines 400+ prices for over 200 products and services in 172 cities, surveying a variety of businesses to track price fluctuations over the last year.

Inflation + Strong Currency = Expensive Cities

If you live in a city where many residents find it challenging to put a roof over their heads, food on their plates, and make ends meet, you live in an expensive city.

But if this inflation is compounded with a strong national currency, you may live in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Rank City Country Index Score
#1 Singapore 🇸🇬 Singapore 100
#1 New York 🇺🇸 U.S. 100
#3 Tel Aviv 🇮🇱 Israel 99
#4 Hong Kong 🇭🇰 Hong Kong 98
#4 Los Angeles 🇺🇸 U.S. 98
#6 Zurich 🇨🇭 Switzerland 94
#7 Geneva 🇨🇭 Switzerland 91
#8 San Francisco 🇺🇸 U.S. 85
#9 Paris 🇫🇷 France 84
#10 Copenhagen 🇩🇰 Denmark 83

Singapore and New York City tied for the first rank amongst the world’s most expensive cities in 2022, pushing Israel’s Tel Aviv from the first place in 2021 to the third place in 2022. Both these cities had high inflation and a strong currency. Surprisingly, this is the Big Apple’s first time atop the ranking.

The city with one of the most expensive real estate markets worldwide, Hong Kong ranked fourth in this list, followed by Los Angeles, which moved up from its ninth rank in 2021.

Poor Economies = Cheaper Cities

Asia continues to dominate the list of the world’s least expensive cities, followed by parts of North Africa and the Middle East. Though affordability sounds good at face value, sitting at the bottom of the ranking isn’t necessarily a coveted position.

While the cost of living in some of the cities in these nations is low, it comes at the price of a weak currency, poor economy, and, in many cases, political and economic turmoil.

Rank City Country Index Score
#161 Colombo 🇱🇰 Sri Lanka 38
#161 Bangalore 🇮🇳 India 38
#161 Algiers 🇩🇿 Algeria 38
#164 Chennai 🇮🇳 India 37
#165 Ahmedabad 🇮🇳 India 35
#166 Almaty 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan 34
#167 Karachi 🇵🇰 Pakistan 32
#168 Tashkent 🇺🇿 Uzbekistan 31
#169 Tunis 🇹🇳 Tunisia 30
#170 Tehran 🇮🇷 Iran 23
#171 Tripoli 🇱🇾 Libya 22
#172 Dasmascus 🇸🇾 Syria 11

The decade-long conflict in Syria weakened the Syrian pound, led to a spiraling inflation and fuel shortages, and further collapsed its economy. It’s no surprise that its capital city of Damascus has maintained its position as the world’s cheapest city.

Tripoli and Tehran, the capitals of Libya and Iran, respectively, follow next on this list, reflecting their weakened economies.

Meanwhile, seven cities in Asia with the common denominator of high-income inequality and low wages dominate the list of the world’s cheapest cities. These include three Indian cities, Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Almaty in Kazakhstan, Pakistan’s most populous city of Karachi, and Sri Lankan capital–Colombo.

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