The world’s most expensive cities in which to live in 2024

The current increase in the global cost of living, while slightly below the 8.1% surge reported in the 2022 survey, still significantly surpasses historical trends. However, there is a silver lining: utility prices, which saw the fastest rise in the 2022 survey, exhibited the least inflation in the latest findings. The pace of price increases has slowed due to the alleviation of supply chain issues since China lifted its COVID-19 restrictions in late 2022. Nevertheless, grocery prices continue to climb as retailers pass on higher costs to consumers.

Upasana Dutt, Head of Worldwide Cost of Living at EIU, anticipates a further deceleration in inflation in 2024. This expectation is based on the delayed impact of interest rate hikes, which are expected to affect economic activity and consumer demand. However, Dutt also warned of ongoing risks, including armed conflict and extreme weather events. Escalations in the Israel-Hamas conflict could drive up energy prices, while an unexpectedly severe impact from El Niño might further elevate food prices.

The inevitable consequence of rising living costs is that many cities have become more expensive to live in, with some experiencing a more pronounced impact than others. Singapore and Zurich have been identified as the world's most expensive cities. Zurich's rise to the top, climbing from sixth place in the previous year's ranking, is attributed to the robust Swiss Franc and elevated prices for groceries, household items, and recreational activities. Meanwhile, Singapore's high transportation and clothing costs were specifically highlighted.

Despite tying with Singapore for the top spot last year, New York has slipped to third place in the latest study, where prices have risen by 1.9%. It now shares the third position with Switzerland's Geneva. Hong Kong, the sole other Asian city in the top 10, secured the fifth spot. Los Angeles follows at No. 6, while Paris is named the seventh most expensive city globally.

Tel Aviv in Israel shares the eighth position with Copenhagen in Denmark. However, it's important to note that the survey was conducted before the October outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Lastly, San Francisco, one of three U.S. cities in the top 10, rounds out the list in 10th place. Further down the rankings, Russian cities Moscow and St. Petersburg experienced significant declines, plummeting 105 places to 142 and 74 places to 147, respectively, in this year's assessment. The sharp depreciation of the ruble since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 contributed to these drops.

The survey attributed the decline of Chinese cities, such as Beijing (which ranked 34th the previous year), to the slow post-pandemic recovery and "subdued consumer demand," resulting in several places lost in the current ranking. Damascus, Syria, maintains its position as the world's cheapest city, while Tehran, Iran, and Tripoli, Libya, are also near the bottom, securing the 172nd and 171st places, respectively. In U.S. cities, utility, domestic help, and tobacco costs were among the highest, whereas Western European cities ranked as some of the most expensive in recreation, transport, and household goods. Asian cities topped the list for the highest costs in groceries and alcohol, as per the survey.

The 2023 Worldwide Cost of Living survey encompassed 173 major cities, analyzing over 400 individual prices across 200 products and services. Notably, Venezuela's Caracas was excluded from the assessment due to a staggering 450% increase in prices since 2022. As of the latest assessment in 2023, the world's 10 most expensive cities are:

  1. Singapore
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. New York, USA
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Los Angeles, USA
  7. Paris, France
  8. Tel Aviv, Israel
  9. Copenhagen, Denmark (tied)
  10. San Francisco, USA

The Broader Implications of Rising Living Costs

The broader implications of these rising living costs are far-reaching and affect various aspects of urban life. Higher living costs can lead to increased financial strain on residents, particularly those with fixed or lower incomes. In cities like Singapore and Zurich, where the cost of living is exceptionally high, residents often face challenges in affording basic necessities such as housing, food, and transportation. This can lead to increased social inequality and exacerbate existing disparities between different socioeconomic groups.

Furthermore, rising living costs can impact the attractiveness of cities as destinations for expatriates and businesses. Companies may find it more expensive to operate in these cities due to higher wages and overhead costs, potentially leading to a shift in business operations to more affordable locations. Similarly, expatriates may opt for cities with lower living costs to maintain a higher quality of life without excessive financial burdens.

The Role of Government and Policy Measures

Governments play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of rising living costs through policy measures and interventions. Implementing policies that promote affordable housing, subsidize essential services, and support local businesses can help alleviate the financial strain on residents. For example, Singapore has implemented various housing policies aimed at providing affordable public housing to its citizens, ensuring that a significant portion of the population can access quality housing without excessive costs.

In addition to housing policies, governments can also implement measures to control inflation and stabilize prices. Central banks can adjust interest rates to manage inflation, while regulatory bodies can monitor and address price gouging and unfair trade practices. By taking proactive steps to manage inflation and support affordable living, governments can help ensure that cities remain vibrant, accessible, and inclusive for all residents.

Global Trends and Regional Variations

While the general trend indicates rising living costs, there are significant regional variations influenced by local economic conditions, government policies, and external factors. For instance, cities in Asia have experienced different trends compared to those in Europe or the Americas. In Asia, rapid urbanization and economic growth have contributed to rising living costs in major cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. However, some cities have managed to keep costs relatively stable through effective government interventions and robust economic policies.

In contrast, cities in Europe have faced unique challenges related to energy prices, driven by geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a profound impact on energy markets, leading to higher prices for fuel and utilities in many European cities. This has further contributed to the overall increase in living costs, affecting everything from transportation to household heating.

The Impact of External Factors on Cost of Living

External factors such as geopolitical events, natural disasters, and global economic trends significantly influence the cost of living in various cities. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, for example, has led to fluctuations in global energy prices, affecting the cost of utilities and transportation in many regions. Similarly, natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and droughts can disrupt supply chains and lead to shortages of essential goods, driving up prices.

Climate change is another critical factor that can impact living costs. Extreme weather events and changing climate patterns can affect agricultural production, leading to food shortages and higher prices. Regions heavily dependent on agriculture may experience significant economic impacts as a result of climate change, affecting the overall cost of living for residents.

Strategies for Coping with Rising Living Costs

For individuals and families facing rising living costs, there are several strategies to manage expenses and maintain financial stability. Budgeting and financial planning are essential tools for tracking income and expenses, identifying areas where costs can be reduced, and prioritizing essential expenditures. Additionally, exploring opportunities for additional income, such as freelance work or part-time jobs, can help supplement household earnings and offset rising costs.

Consumers can also adopt more sustainable and cost-effective practices, such as using public transportation, reducing energy consumption, and purchasing locally-produced goods. These practices not only help save money but also contribute to environmental sustainability and support local economies.


The rising cost of living is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including inflation, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical events, and climate change. While some cities have managed to implement effective policies to mitigate these impacts, others continue to face significant challenges. By understanding the factors driving living costs and adopting strategies to manage expenses, individuals and policymakers can work together to create more sustainable and equitable urban environments.

As we move forward, it is crucial to remain vigilant and proactive in addressing the challenges posed by rising living costs. Through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions, we can ensure that cities remain accessible, affordable, and vibrant places to live for people from all walks of life.

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