Do You Live in One of the World's Most Expensive Cities?
Think your city’s expensive? Your wallet might feel fatter after you check out the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual list of the world’s 10 priciest urban areas. Each year, the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey examines the cost of 400 individual prices across 160 items and services (food, transportation, utility bills, etc.) in 133 cities worldwide. The EIU then uses these numbers to calculate which metropolis sets residents and visitors back the most, financially.
For the third year in a row, Singapore was named the world’s most expensive city. While groceries are cheaper in Singapore than in other Asian cities like Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, CNN reports that the island city-state has staggeringly high transportation and utility costs.
According to CNN, public transit costs 2.7 times more in Singapore than it does in New York City—and it’s not cheaper to own a car or motorcycle. To curb traffic, the government requires drivers to own a Certificate of Entitlement, or COE. This piece of paper gives drivers the legal right to own, register, and operate a vehicle for 10 years. Only a certain number of COEs are released each month, and residents must bid on them. If demand is high, prices can skyrocket and even surpass the cost of a car.
Moving to Switzerland will also put a dent in your savings. Zurich tied with Hong Kong as the world’s second-most expensive city, and Geneva came in fourth. This is likely due to the fact that Swiss currency increased in value after the country’s National Bank stopped pegging it to the euro, swissinfo.ch points out. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s high ranking might be due to the fact that the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, which hasn’t fallen like other currencies in the city’s neighboring Southeast Asia, CNBC writes.
Paris, London, and Copenhagen were ranked at No. 5, No. 6., and No. 8. However, only two American cities were listed in the EIU survey's top 10. New York City made the cut, jumping from No. 22 to No. 7., and Los Angeles tied with Copenhagen for No. 8., jumping 19 spots from No. 27 in 2015.
If you live in L.A. or New York City and don't think your cost of living has increased (despite their rise up the list), you’re likely right. "New York and Los Angeles move up the ranking because of currency headwinds rather than significant local price rises," the EIU said in the report. "In fact, the opposite may be true. With the falling cost of oil and a strong U.S. dollar pushing down prices, local inflation has been relatively low across the U.S."
Surprised that San Francisco isn’t in the top 10? The Golden Gate City came in at No. 34—but only because the index didn’t include the price of shelter, The Wall Street Journal points out. If this household cost were factored into the survey, the city would likely rank much higher.
Curious to see whether your town made the top 20? Check out the full survey results.