These are the world’s most expensive cities to live in 2021. Since the list includes several ties, the 2021 list is actually longer than the usual ten cities. Keep in mind that the list changes every year – so some cities might have moved up the list while others might have fallen off the top 10 since 2019. This year, Asia has more cities in the list than any other continent, with Europe in second place.
2021's most expensive cities to live in the world:
1. (tie) Singapore
1. (tie) Osaka, Japan
1. (tie) Hong Kong
4. New York City, New York
5. (tie) Paris
5. (tie) Zurich, Switzerland
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
8. (tie) Los Angeles, California
8. (tie) Tokyo
10. Geneva, Switzerland
And here’s a little insight on what makes some of these cities so expensive:
Singapore has been near the top of the list for many years, a testament to how expensive this city is. For example, owning a car in Singapore will set you back a small fortune, no matter what car you get. That’s because Singapore has very strict traffic management strategies to limit the number of vehicles allowed on the road. To discourage people from buying cars, anybody who wants one will need to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement or COE (basically a permission that allows residents to own a car) and then pay the Additional Registration Fee (ARF), an extra tax based on the cost of your vehicle. When all is said and one, a Toyota Corolla Altis would cost you around S$107,000 ($77,000 USD) in Singapore.
Video tour of Singapore:
Osaka & Tokyo
The strengthening of the Yen currency in the past year has pushed both Osaka and Tokyo up in the list, making them especially expensive for expats. For tourists, Tokyo is a more expensive city –hotels, restaurants and even transportation cost more in Tokyo than in Osaka. But when it comes to day-to-day living, Osaka is less likely to have special sales and discounts than trendy shopping destination Tokyo, making daily life more expensive for long-term residents. Utilities, education and transportation are notoriously expensive in Japan, and so is owning a car and even going to the movies.
Video tour of Osaka:
Property prices are so high in Hong Kong that NYC actually feels like a bargain in comparison. According to Bloomberg, Hong Kong is now the world’s most expensive property market, where the average home will cost you $1.2 million. As a comparison, the average home in Singapore – the most expensive city in the world – sells for “just” $874,000.
Video tour of Hong Kong:
According to Investopedia, living in NYC will cost you about 148% more than in any other major city in the US. Restaurants are also 28% more expensive in NYC than in other major cities, and groceries clock in at 24 % higher. The median rent in the US for a two-bedroom apartment is just under $1500; in NYC, you’ll pay more than twice that.
Video tour of New York:
Entertainment and socializing in Paris doesn’t come cheap and neither do groceries. Plus, housing costs in Paris are on par with major cities in the US but salaries are lower at an average of $58,000 a year. Renters also have to pay housing tax in Paris – and this is based on the size of your apartment and your neighborhood.
Video tour of Paris:
Tel Aviv is notorious for its high property prices, similar to those in New York. According to Haaretz, it takes the average skilled worker 11 years to pay for a 650 square feet apartment in Tel Aviv. With the economy growing at a faster pace than usual and the Israeli shekel getting stronger, the cost of living is expected to get even higher.
Video tour of Tel Aviv:
Geneva & Zurich
According to Numbeo, the cost of living index in Zurich is 30.67% higher than in New York. Geneva doesn’t fall far behind. Switzerland has a low tax system and very high salaries, but also a very expensive obligatory healthcare system. Housing and energy also take up at least 16% of the average salary, while entertainment and leisure eats up around 13% thanks to very high prices for food and drinks.
Video tour of Zurich:
Compared to NYC, Los Angeles gives you a little more for your money – but that doesn’t mean the city is necessarily cheaper. The median home listing price in LA is just under $700k, much higher than the nationwide average of $226,800. Plus, public transportation isn’t a big thing in Los Angeles, which means you’ll have the added cost of a car and everything that comes with it.
Video tour of Los Angeles:
And there you have it: The top 10 most expensive cities to live in the world in 2021. As you may have noticed the high cost of living is mainly due to high housing costs, and higher prices on dining out. Some cities have higher average salaries as a result. However, some don't. And even if they do, if you're not employed in a profession or company that pays higher than average, then it becomes very challenging to survive in such an expensive city.