The World's Most Expensive Cities

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    Budget Breakers

    panoramic skyline and cityscape of city hongkong
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    Deciding where to go for your next city break can be difficult. Often, cost is a key factor, since some destinations are significantly more expensive than others. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey, the following ten cities are likely to take a heavy toll on your wallet. The survey compares product prices to determine the world’s most expensive cities—products evaluated include food, drink, transport and recreation. New York prices are used as a comparative baseline. 

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  • 02 of 11

    Los Angeles

    Santa Monica palm trees on beach
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    The strengthening of the U.S. dollar has seen L.A. climb international rankings to become the tenth most expensive city in the world. In the City of Angels, alcohol is especially pricey, with the average 750ml bottle of table wine costing $23.53, compared with a $12.47 price-tag in New York.

    However, renting a car is cheap thanks to low gas prices of $0.99/ litre of unleaded petrol. While shopping and theatre tickets remain expensive, many of the city’s best attractions (including The Getty Center, Griffith Park and Venice Beach Boardwalk) are free.

     

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  • 03 of 11

    Seoul

    Neon signs in Myeongdong shopping district at night.
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    Ranked 36th in 2011, Seoul is now the ninth most expensive city in the world, thanks in large part to the hugely inflated cost of basic food and drink. With the average 1kg loaf of bread priced at $12.44, grocery shopping in Seoul is 33% more expensive than in New York.

    Public transport is inexpensive, however, with a 10km subway journey costing approximately $1. Many of the city’s must-see sites are equally affordable, with admission prices to attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace and The National Museum of Korea costing $5 or less. 

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    Copenhagen

    Nyhavn, colorful harbour of Copenhagen (Denmark)
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    According to Copenhagen’s official tourism site, one can expect to fork out $5 for a cup of coffee and $7 for a sandwich in the Danish capital. Gas prices are more than double those of New York, while public transport is amongst the world’s most expensive.

    However, bike rentals are part of the city’s culture and offer an affordable alternative to public transport. The Copenhagen Card is another option, offering free transport and admission to key attractions like Rosenborg Castle and the Tivoli Gardens. It costs around $55/ adult for 24 hours. 

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    New York

    Yellow cabs below Flatiron building
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    New York is one of the most expensive cities on the list for luxury items like alcohol and cigarettes, while the Broadway shows and upmarket shopping opportunities for which the city is famous help to make the Big Apple a costly destination.

    However, transport is relatively affordable compared with other top-ten cities, with a single subway ride costing $2.75. New York also boasts plenty of budget dining options, while free attractions like Central Park and the Staten Island Ferry make it possible to enjoy the city on a budget. 

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  • 06 of 11

    London

    Tower Bridge and The Shard at sunset, London
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    London is notorious for its pricey public transport, with a one-stop journey costing approximately $6.50. It’s the second dearest top-ten city when it comes to gas, too, so car rental is no more affordable; while mid-range restaurants, bars and hotels also carry top-level prices.

    However, with some of the cheapest grocery prices on the list, self-catering is an easy way to save. Oyster Cards give discounts on public transport, and London is full to the brim with free attractions. These include The British Museum, The National Gallery, and all eight Royal Parks. 

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  • 07 of 11

    Paris

    Montorgueil District in Paris, France
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    Despite the weakening Euro, Paris can be incredibly expensive. Perhaps it’s the designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels for which the city is famous, or perhaps it’s the fact that most must-see sights (including The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre) charge admission.

    France’s famous vintages remain within budget, however, as alcohol and tobacco are relatively cheap. An abundance of street vendors and artisan markets makes self-catering both affordable and authentic, while some of the most expensive attractions offer free entry at specific times. 

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  • 08 of 11

    Geneva

    Geneva aerial view
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    Together with Zürich, Geneva is the costliest city in the world for entertainment and recreation, while a 2015 survey by Hotels.com also ranked the city as the world’s most expensive for hotel dining. Costs are exacerbated by the recently increased value of the Swiss Franc.

    One major plus for the budget-conscious traveller is that all Geneva hotels issue their patrons with a Geneva Transport Card, which allows for free use of public transport. While many of the city’s attractions charge admission, beautiful Lake Geneva is free for all to enjoy. 

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  • 09 of 11

    Hong Kong

    Night market Mong Kok, Hong Kong
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    Sharing the title of the world’s second most expensive city with Zürich, Hong Kong is known for costly accommodation. Groceries are 28% more expensive than in New York., while a 2016 report by consulting firm Mercer puts the average price of a cup of coffee at almost $8.

    There are ways to save money, however. Public transport is relatively cheap, with an unlimited day pass for the MTR or subway costing around $8. Several of the city’s most interesting museums are free on Wednesdays, while colorful night markets offer a cheap way to experience local cuisine. 

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    Zürich

    Switzerland, Zurich, Cityview, Limmat River, Town House Quai, Fraumuenster Church and Muenster Bridge
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    Also ranked as the third most expensive city for expatriates by Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Survey, a double room in a three-star Zürich hotel costs around $220/night. Dining out is costly, while top attractions like Kunsthaus Zürich and the Zürich Opera House carry hefty ticket prices.

    However, like Geneva, Zürich is blessed with spectacular scenery. Groceries are relatively inexpensive, so a picnic on the shores of Lake Zürich or at the summit of Uetliberg Mountain is an affordable way to make the most of one’s time in the city.

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  • 11 of 11

    Singapore

    Singapore skyline at dawn
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    Singapore retains its 2015 ranking as the world’s most expensive city. Although its status as the costliest place in the world to buy a car may not affect visitors, public transport is also 2.7 times pricier than in New York. Shopping, dining and accommodation can also carry sky-high price-tags.

    However, general grocery costs are on par with New York, offering much better value than some of the cities further down the list. Global food courts offer budget meals for the discerning traveller, while highlights like Chinatown, Merlion Park and the Singapore Botanic Gardens are free.