The Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Which cities are the most expensive in the world to live in? The top ten may surprise you.

Living in a major city where it’s easier to go to more concerts, see more art, and do more in general comes with a price tag. Would you move to one of the most expensive cities in the world? Or would you rather just take a vacation in one of the world’s most luxurious cities? From the West Coast to Southeast Asia, the ten most expensive cities in the world have a lot to offer. Which would you visit first?

Osaka, Japan

Osaka Castle in spring
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While Tokyo is the most well-known city in Japan, it’s not the most expensive. Located in the Kansai region, Osaka beats the capital city when it comes to expensive living. Specifically, clothing and recreation are both more expensive in Osaka than in Tokyo. 

However, the high cost of living shouldn’t stop you from vacationing in the third-largest city in Japan. The food, shopping, and nightlife make Osaka a popular place to explore. 

Visit the Osaka Castle and its Nishinomaru Garden. Then, head to the National Bunraku Theater for a puppet show or stop by the Namba Grand Kagetsu to watch a comedy set. Check out the city’s museums and cherry blossoms, too (if you visit in the spring!).

Los Angeles, CA, USA

LA skyline in background with palm trees in foreground
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California is the Golden State for more reasons than its sunny climate. You may need a bar of gold to afford to live in this luxurious city. The main reason that LA is so expensive is because of high real estate prices. However, taxes, utilities, and the cost of consumer goods are also high, making it a pricey place to live.

But none of that should prevent you from visiting this star-studded city. Check out the New Academy Museum of Motion Pictures if you’re a movie buff. Or, if you’d rather get active on vacation, check out LA’s best hiking trails or go roller skating through the city. Look for street art after you dine at one of the city’s many amazing restaurants, and of course, soak up the sun at the beach!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen with flag of Denmark in foreground
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The first European city on this list and the seventh-most expensive city to live in in the world is the Danish Capital. While salaries may be high in Copenhagen, so are taxes. Additionally, consumer goods and services are higher than the European average. Transportation, recreation, and personal care costs are extremely high in this Danish city. Rent, food, and clothing are also high.

But just because it may be expensive to live in Copenhagen that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit this historic city. Take the time to visit Copenhagen’s eight castles, including the Kronborg Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the city’s cultural district which features 19 museums. And of course, don’t forget to eat a Danish while you’re there!

Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva at night with Alps in background
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Head south from Copenhagen to Geneva for another – and even more expensive – European city. The reason why it costs so much to live in Geneva? Rent is shockingly high, especially in the city center. Insurance, high food costs, and fuel prices all contribute to the high cost of living in the city.

Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting! There are plenty of luxury experiences, and Geneva is located close to many great locations for watersports and snow sports. But you can’t miss the attractions the city has to offer. If you like unique and interesting museums, Geneva has four for your consideration: the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the International Museum of the Reformation, the Bodmer Foundation (a library), and the Patek Phillippe Museum, where you can learn about the art of Swiss watchmaking.

New York City, NY, USA

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There’s no way around it: the Big Apple is a pricey place. It’s the most expensive city to live in in the United States, beating out San Francisco and Los Angeles. Everything’s more expensive in New York, from rent to groceries to entertainment. But housing is the top reason why NYC ranks as the most expensive city in the land of the free.

While you may not want to move to NYC, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Big Apple. Of course, you can always tour the classics, like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and all of the city’s museums. Catch a Broadway show and stand beneath the screens of Time Square. But there are plenty of hidden gems in this major, massive city worth exploring, and of course, the culinary scene is hard to beat. 

Read More: The World’s Most Expensive, Indulgent Foods

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong at night
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Coming in as the fifth most expensive city to live in in the world is Hong Kong – and there’s a simple reason why. Supply and demand rule in Hong Kong, where the demand for housing is high and the supply is low. In fact, Hong Kong may be the most expensive place to buy a house in the entire world.

Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this major Asian city. Have a peaceful picnic with your family at one of Hong Kong’s many picnic spots, or join in on the hustle and bustle at Hong Kong Disneyworld. Visit Ocean Park Hong Kong or explore the city’s museums. But remember, Hong Kong is extremely densely populated – there are people everywhere. So if you’re not a fan of crowds, this city may be one that you want to miss.

Zurich, Switzerland

Head back to Europe for the fourth most expensive city to live in in the world: Zurich, Switzerland. The main reason why? The cost of goods and services in Zurich is astronomical. Groceries are extremely expensive, as are clothing, shoes, toys, and entertainment. The reason for these high prices is most likely related to both taxes and wholesale practices. Of course, rent is also extremely expensive across Switzerland and in Zurich especially.

But there’s so much in this beautiful city that makes it a phenomenal place to visit. Learn about the city’s beautiful and historic architecture on a tour, or spend the day shopping on Zurich’s exclusive shopping street, the Bahnhofstrasse. Of course, you can’t leave the city without seeing Lake Zurich up close and gazing at the distant Swiss Alps.

Singapore, Singapore

Singapore and the bay at night
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Tied with Paris as the second-most expensive city in the world to live in, Singapore is the priciest spot in Southeast Asia. This island nation has few natural resources and land is scarce, driving up the prices of utilities and real estate. If you’re going to move to Singapore, be prepared to pay premium prices for everything.

However, high real estate prices shouldn’t drive you away from vacationing in this expensive city. Check out Sentosa Island, just off of Singapore’s southern coast, for tropical beaches and luxurious hotels. Shop on Orchard Road at some of the world’s most exclusive stores, or visit Marina Bay for trendy dining experiences.

Paris, France

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The city of love is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. The primary reason why it’s so expensive is the high real estate prices – which has been true of this popular, fashionable city for decades. Utilities are also expensive in France’s capital city. 

However, if you do your research and prepare ahead of time, you can make a vacation to Paris affordable. Take the time to read reviews and look for tips that are up-to-date before you take the plunge and book your vacation. 

Once you do arrive in Paris, you’ll be swept away by the magic and the romance of the city. The architecture is absolutely breathtaking, the historical sites are intriguing, and the food is unforgettably good. Visit the classics, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Shakespeare & Co Bookstore, and the Champs Elysees if you’re looking for the classic Parisian tourist experience. But you should also take the time to explore the city’s less-popular attractions, too, such as the Musee d’Orsay. Of course, you have to make time for fine dining at a top Parisian restaurant while you’re there.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Aerial view of Tel Aviv
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Finally, in Tel Aviv, the prices of goods and services are currently higher than in any other global city, according to the World Economic Forum. Inflation and the nature of the Israeli currency have launched Tel Aviv to the spot of the most expensive city in the world to live in as of December 2021. The price of housing and consumer goods also contribute to the high cost of living.

While you probably wouldn’t want to move to this hyper-expensive city, it’s well worth the visit. Tour the monuments of the past and then relax on the sunny beach. Enjoy the exciting nightlife and the incredible cuisine. Visit the White City, which is Tel Aviv’s World Heritage site. Check out Florentin if you’re looking for a hips pot home to photographers, designers, and musicians.

Read More: These Are the Best Cities in the U.S. to Live In

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