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Singapore, Zurich surpass New York to become world’s most expensive cities to live in — survey

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 11:52 AM
Tan KW
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Singapore and Zurich surpassed New York to become the world’s most expensive cities to live in this year, according to a new global survey.

The sky-high cost of car ownership, pricey alcohol and rising grocery prices saw Singapore pull ahead of the US city, with which it shared the top spot last year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 report.

Zurich jumped from the sixth place last year to joint first, thanks in part to a strong Swiss franc, as well as expensive groceries, household goods and recreation.

Geneva, tied with New York in the third position, and Hong Kong rounded out the list of the top five costliest places. Overall, global prices rose an average 7.4% year-on-year in local currency terms, slightly down on last year’s 8.1% increase. 

Chinese cities were among the biggest movers down the rankings, mainly due to the country’s slow post-pandemic recovery and subdued consumer demand.

Other findings from the study were:

  • Los Angeles (sixth place) and San Francisco (10th) were the only other US cities to make the top 10
  • The cheapest city remained the Syrian capital of Damascus, in spite of its cost-of-living basket price rising 321%
  • Mexico’s Santiago de Querétaro and Aguascalientes were the biggest global movers upwards in the rankings, after the peso strengthened against the US dollar
  • The weaker Japanese yen saw Tokyo slip 23 places to the 60th place, and Osaka drop 27 spots to rank 70th.
  • While Israel’s Tel Aviv made the top 10, the survey was carried out before the Israel-Hamas war, which may have affected prices
  • Utility prices rose the most slowly out of the 10 broad categories of goods and services examined, increasing by 5.7%

“The supply-side shocks that drove price increases in 2021-2022 have reduced since China lifted its Covid-19 restrictions in late 2022, while the spike in energy prices seen after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 has also eased,” said Upasana Dutt, the head of worldwide cost of living at the EIU. “Despite upside risks, we expect inflation to decelerate further in 2024, easing prices globally.”

The survey was carried out between Aug 14 and Sept 11, and compared more than 400 individual prices in 173 cities globally.

The following are the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, with their 2023 rankings. Some cities are tied.

1. Singapore

1. Zurich

3. Geneva

3. New York

5. Hong Kong

6. Los Angeles

7. Paris

8. Copenhagen

8. Tel Aviv

10. San Francisco


  - Bloomberg


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