Where’s The Most Expensive City In The World?

Most Expensive City

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The cost of living crisis is weighing down most of the world – but you would hardly know in the world’s most expensive cities.

Life is still going on as normal in the lavish cafes, bars and restaurants. Designer-label shoppers are still chasing the latest fashions, and even a modest home seems to cost the earth.

But when you’re bringing home a six-figure plus salary, the financial worries most of us have about feeding the kids or keeping warm seem a long way off.

Switzerland is firmly entrenched as the most expensive place to live – but the title of the most expensive city goes to Hamilton, Bermuda.

The latest data published by the cost of living tracker website Numbeo puts six Swiss cities in the top 10 most expensive list worldwide.

Bread Costs A Fiver

Numbeo’s cost of living index rates Hamilton as 42 per cent more expensive to live in than New York.

Shopping in Hamilton is costly, even for the most basic goods.

A loaf of fresh, white bread is £5.59, and a basic combo meal at the local McDonald’s starts at £11.53.

Renting a single bedroomed apartment in the city centre costs renters £2,666 monthly.

The average take-home pay is £4,833 a month.

The website reckons a family of four needs £5,685 a month to get by – without accommodation costs of £3,525 a month to rent a three-bed flat outside the city centre. Then, add another £2,000 a month to live closer to the city centre.

Every family of four needs a monthly income of £10,000 after tax to cover basic living costs in Hamilton.

£13 For A Basic McDonald’s Meal

Meanwhile, the cost of living in Switzerland is palpably more expensive than in the rest of Europe.

Basel, the country’s third largest city behind Zurich and Geneva, is slightly more expensive than the rest, with living costs 28 per cent dearer than in New York.

Astonishingly, that McDonald’s combo meal costing more than £11 in Hamilton is priced even higher in Switzerland – at £13. But a loaf of bread is half the price of Hamilton – tagged at £2.63.

A family of four needs to take home £4,665 monthly to pay the bills – not including rent, which costs £2,574 monthly for a city centre three-bed apartment. The cost falls to £1,996 monthly for living in the suburbs.

To pay the rent and bills in Switzerland, a family needs to clear at least £7,239 monthly

World’s Most Expensive Cities

Here are the world’s most expensive cities ranked by cost of living in relation to New York.

New York equals 100 on the index – Hamilton, at 142, is 42 per cent more expensive than New York, while London, with a score of 74 is 26 per cent cheaper.

RankCityCountryCost of Living Index
7Santa BarbaraUSA112
9George TownCayman Islands106
11New YorkUSA100
Source: Numbeo

Most Expensive City On Each Continent

These are the most expensive places to live on each continent, again ranked against New York as the base, scoring 100.

RankContinentCityCountryCost of Living Index
7North AmericaSanta BarbaraUSA112
246South AmericaMontevideoUruguay60
42Middle EastNetanyaIsrael80
Source: Numbeo

The World’s Cheapest Cities

The Numbeo cost of living index is made up of data supplied by expats and other nationals posting more than 8 million prices for goods and services across 540 cities.

Peshawar, Pakistan, is the cheapest city listed, with the cost of living 85 per cent cheaper than New York and 127 per cent less than that of the most expensive city – Hamilton.

While Switzerland dominates the top listings, Pakistan does the same for the cheapest ranking cities, with six of the bottom 10 rankings.

RankCityCountryCost of Living Index
Source: Numbeo

Countries With The Best Quality Of Life

The cost of living is not the only measure applied to a city. Quality of life is important as well.

Switzerland scores well for the quality of life – third overall behind The Netherlands and Denmark.

Quality of life scores a range of factors, such as spending power, pollution, home affordability, the cost of living, health, traffic commute times and climate.

RankCountryQuality of Life Index
Source: Numbeo

Global Property Prices Compared

The Numbeo property index reveals the stark cost of housing worldwide.

The countries with the most expensive homes surprisingly do not include the UK, France, Germany or other European nations until well past the fifties – like Germany (69), Austria (71) and Japan (72).

Britain scores a ranking of 85.

RankCountryPrice To Income RatioMortgage As Percentage Of Income
3Hong Kong (China)45287
4Sri Lanka41664
Source: Numbeo

World’s Most Expensive Cities FAQ

Why are international cost of living reports important?

Expats planning to retire overseas or assessing the viability of a new assignment need to know how much they should set aside each month to pay rent and the bills rather than go in blind.

The Numbeo indices cover the cost of living , property prices and the quality of life.

How reliable is the Numbeo data?

The data is volunteered by people living in the cities they write about – about 8.5 million prices covering every country and more than 11,000 categories.

Formulas are applied to the data to produce the rankings. The formulas are explained online.

Is the data adjusted?

No, the data is processed but not adjusted.

How up-to-date is the information?

The categories are ranked automatically as data is input in real time.

Are there alternatives to Numbeo?

Yes, there are alternatives to NUmbeo, such as Expatistan and Living Cost.org

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