For anyone dreaming of moving abroad, it’s important to know whether you’ll be able to afford to live in the city of your choice. You want to keep an eye on your money, especially during the current climate.
In a recent survey, almost 60% of people between 18- 35 indicated they wanted to move abroad, either for work or to study. On top of that, Generation Z and Millenials are being described as the No-Nation Generation, as they don’t want to limit themselves to experiencing just one country.
With options aplenty, it’s important to have some insight into how much you’ll be paying once you live there. As it will impact what kind of place you can afford (and if you need to be looking for roommates), but also how far your salary will get you in your everyday life, and if you’ll need some extra financial support.
Here, HousingAnywhere can help! By ranking the Top 100 Most Expensive Cities, anyone looking to move abroad will know which cities are best suited for their budget and if they’ll need to save up before making the move.
To navigate the best city for you we’ve ranked cities all over the world based on the rent you’ll be paying, what you’ll spend when going out for a bite to eat, and what you’ll spend on grocery shopping. Included in the ranking is your purchasing power, a score calculated by taking the average net salary in the city and deducting costs of goods and services. The outcome of this has been standardized and ranked, to indicate which cities have the best salaries vs costs of living. The higher the score, the better the balance between salaries and living expenses.
To calculate each city’s score for the ranking, all costs were standardized and scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most affordable and 10 the most expensive city. In case of purchasing power, the maximum score of 10 means that residents of the city have a high purchasing power.
According to HousingAnywhere’s 2020 Most Expensive Cities in the World survey, the number 1 most expensive city to live in is San Francisco as a result of its notoriously high rents with an average of 3,500 euro (4,124 dollars) a month for a one-bedroom apartment (including utilities), pushing the city to the top of the ranking. In 2nd place you find New York, with both high rents and a high cost of living, making this an overall expensive city to live in. Zurich comes in 3rd place, thanks to its expensive restaurants and high food prices. In 4th place ranks Hong Kong and in 5th place Los Angeles.
To complete the top 10 for most expensive cities: (6) London, (7) Singapore, (8) Luxembourg, (9), Dublin, and (10) Amsterdam.
With above-average rents and a notoriously high cost of living, Zurich (3) is ranked the number one Most Expensive City based on Cost of Living. A meal in a restaurant for two people could set you back 100 Swiss Francs, roughly 93 euros. London (6) has the highest rents in Europe, with a rental average of 1,746 euro per month for a one-bedroom apartment including utilities. Beautiful Luxembourg (8) scores average based on rental prices but becomes less affordable due to the low purchasing power of its residents. Salaries in this city unfortunately do not match the prices in the shops. Amsterdam comes in at (10) in the top 100, with prices at restaurants making the city less affordable to live in. In Israel - Tel Aviv-Yafo (14), prices for food in restaurants as well as in supermarkets are high. Here you pay 84.33 Israeli Shekel (21 euro) for 1 kg of beef and 50.00 Israeli Shekel (12 euro) for a bottle of wine in the supermarket. United Arab Emirates - Dubai (28) scores high all fronts, with average rents of around 80,000 Dubai dirham (1,800 euro) for a one-bedroom apartment, and a bottle of wine from the supermarket costing 60 Dubai dirham (13 euro).
The US has six cities in the top 100 ranking of Most Expensive Cities in the World, and is also well represented in the top 5: (1) San Francisco (3,500 euro or 4,124 dollar a month), (2) New York (2,622 euro or 3,092 dollar a month), and (5) Los Angeles (2109 euro or 2524 dollar a month). High rents in both San Francisco and New York make them the two most expensive cities to live in. All cities also rank low on purchasing power, meaning the salaries of the residents don’t match the cost of living.
In Bahamas - Nassau (18), restaurants and grocery stores are generally more expensive with around 75 dollars for a meal for 2 persons. Purchasing power is overall high in this city, meaning the salaries outway the higher prices for groceries and eating out. When looking at Canada, restaurants are most expensive in Toronto (24) where both 1 kg of beef and a bottle of wine cost around 16 Canadian dollars, about 10 euro.
Hong Kong is often mentioned as being the most expensive city in the world with rents of 18,308 Hong Kong Dollars, about 2,000 euro per month for a one-bedroom apartment, including utilities. Thanks to affordable restaurants where a 2-person meal will cost you a ‘mere’ 485 Hong Kong Dollar (50 euro) and reasonable purchasing power of its residents, this city is ranked third. Singapore (7) and Sydney (11) are cities where residents have less purchasing power as salaries don’t match everyday costs. Japan - Tokyo (19), known for being generally expensive, scores high across the board. In this city many people dream of living, you pay 2,841 Japanese Yen (almost 23 euro) for 1 kg of beef and 1,500.00 Japanese Yen (13 euro) for a bottle of wine from the supermarket.
The Most Expensive Cities in the World ranking was calculated by HousingAnywhere's Data Scientist Mihai Atimuț with the full support of the Data Science team, based on the following data:
Over 500 cities were surveyed throughout the world across five continents, and were narrowed down to 100 cities making them easier to navigate. Costs of rent, going out to dinner, and grocery shopping were included to give an indication of the costs people will be facing in everyday life. To balance the cities out evenly, spending power was also included as in some cities salaries are generally higher, making it easier to get by.
We developed this ranking to help anyone looking to move abroad to get a better understanding of the costs involved in moving to another country or city. Whether driven by a new job, the start of a new academic year, or even a dream, it’s important to have a good understanding of what you’ll be paying day to day. By comparing cities all over the world, we want to help you make a well-educated decision in your move abroad. Of course, data is always developing and can always be discussed. If you have questions or input for the ranking – feel free to reach out!
HousingAnywhere is the world's largest rental accommodation platform for expats, young professionals, and international students boasting over 50,000 active advertisements and over 8 million users in over 60 countries. More than 150 partner universities recommend their students to use the HousingAnywhere platform. The Rotterdam-based technology start-up employs 120 people.
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