Sylvain SonnetGetty Images
Living in a city is an experience unlike any other. You’ve typically got historic sites, incredible architecture, museums, wide varieties of food and drink and so much more available right at your fingertips. The most popular cities around the world — like Paris, France; Shanghai, China; and even Boston, Massachusetts — are coveted for a reason, after all. But living in a city also comes with a price … literally.
A 2022 cost of living study conducted by Mercer compared the prices of housing, transportation, food, clothing, and more to find the most expensive cities in the world to live. Whether you’re looking for a new place to plant your roots, need some vacation inspo, or you’re just straight-up curious, check out the most expensive cities in the world that made the list. You’ll learn all about the deep histories, culture and people that make these places so sought-after.
55. Lagos, Nigeria
Compared to Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living Survey, Lagos dropped from being the 19th most expensive city to the 55th. Nevertheless, Lagos, the 5th most populous city in the world, a hub for Nigeria’s imports and the center of the Nigerian movie industry and music scene, still charges a pretty penny when it comes to the housing market. Because of the city’s large population and lack of available land, it’s difficult to acquire a home or piece of land due to sky-high prices.
54. Nouméa, New Caledonia
The average cost of living in Nouméa is $1,618 a month, firmly solidifying its place in the top 25% of the most expensive cities in the world. This idyllic capital of New Caledonia — one of the richest countries in the world — sits off the eastern coast of Australia and is home to various cultures. Experts say that even a vacation to this Pacific-based island will cost about $2,000 to $5,000 per person per day, and that’s if budgeted correctly.
53. Kinshasa,The Democratic Republic Of The Congo
Typically, only the very wealthy or expats are able to afford apartments in Kinshasa, DRC, due to high rent rates that can start at $20,000 year— a hefty price for a country where 72% of people live on less than $1.90 a day. The city is populated with about 17 million people and often experiences power and electricity cuts because of traffic jams, another contributing factor to high rent rates.
52. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
A city that looks straight out of a story book, Luxembourg is both ranked in the top 2% on the list of best places to live in the world and #1 as the best city to live in Luxembourg. Not only is the country the second richest country in the world (known for award-winning wines), but the capital Luxembourg is famous for its underground network of tunnels and is a hub for finance and private banking. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment would cost around about $25,000 a year, not including any amenities, public transportation, etc. Due to increasing population, lack of new housing and rising housing prices, the cost of living is only increasing in this expensive city.
51. Nagoya, Japan
Although a much more affordable city in lieu of more populated Japanese cities like Tokyo, Nagoya has a high cost of living even without factoring in rent. A family of four on average can expect to spend $3,172 for monthly expenses, and rent typically starts anywhere from $357 to $731 per month. Besides being known for its beautiful skyline, Nagoya is also known for its automotive industry. Big names like Toyota and Mitsubishi have factories here, resulting in increased living prices.
49. Dublin, Ireland
A 2020 survey by The Economist showed that the cost of living in Dublin is among the highest in Europe. Between the countless traditional pubs and major attractions like the Guinness storehouse, Jameson Distillery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Spire of Dublin, Dublin is a riveting city full of history and fun. And outside the city you’re only a little ways away from old castles, fresh greenery and lush mountain ranges. With this in mind, Dublin is one of the more expensive cities in Europe, with apartments costing about $2,000 a month.
47. The Hague, Netherlands
A quick vacation to this Dutch city typically costs travelers $149 per day, excluding the cost of a hotel stay and transportation, but locals would argue it is well worth it. With a variety of Dutch institutions, museums, factories and more to see and enjoy, The Hague is a pricey but nice place to vacation to or reside in.
46. Berlin, Germany
The cost of living in Berlin, Germany is above the European average and yet the city of 3.7 million people is the cheapest capital city to live in for western Europe. Although the costs of living have only risen in the last few years with a decreasing housing market and increase in basic everyday costs, Berlin is still a popular city for both German citizens and expats to reside in thanks to the exciting nightlife and fun restaurants. Average rent typically starts at $1,393 a month.
45. Seattle, Washington
A 2016 study shared that an annual income of about $72,092 is needed to live “comfortably” in Seattle, which means that nowadays it costs even more. The city which sits on the shore of the Puget Sound and is easily recognized by the iconic Space Needle dotting its skyline, has one of the higher costs of living in the United States due to its high sales tax and the large number of businesses who have made Seattle home for their headquarters.
44. Chengdu, China
43. Helsinki, Finland
$67,886 per year definitely is a high average cost for a typical two-parent, two-child family. But in Finland, that typically includes rent, a car loan payment, utilities, groceries, entertainment AND a two-week vacation once a year. The expensive cost of living is often attributed to high market demand in food and restaurant industries and a “low level of competition in the closed-sector industries.”
41. Djibouti, Djibouti
With growing levels of poverty in Djibouti, the cost of living has skyrocketed. Although the cost of living is on average about $554, almost two times less than the world average, Djibouti is the most expensive country in Africa due to its high commodity and service prices.
40. Shenyang, China
The capital of the Liaoning province and the province’s most populous city with about 9 million people, Shenyang is a pricey place to live. Known as a leading industrial, commerce and trade city, those living in Shenyang can expect to drop a heavy chunk of change each month when it comes to rent, food, utilities and more.
39. Brussels, Belgium
Not only is Brussels the most densely populated municipality in the Brussels-Capital region, it’s a massive historical hub home to many European government institutions and known for being the admin center for the European Union. A family of four can expect to pay on average monthly costs of about $3,055, not including rent.
38. Victoria, Seychelles
Stunning nature, beautiful beaches and blue green waters welcome any who visit Seychelles’ capital city Victoria. Located in the Indian Ocean on Mahé Island, the city is home to giant turtles, blooming orchids and other wildlife and plants. Seychelles, which is a grouping of 115 islands off the coast of East Africa, can quickly become expensive with its high rental rates, utilities costs and service taxes. On the other hand, the stunning scenery, comfortable temps, and abundant activities can all but make up for it if you have a comfortable salary.
37. Osaka, Japan
Although life in Osaka is expensive, the high minimum wage amount in Japan helps citizens more easily adapt to the growing cost of living. Osaka is a must-see destination for tourists, as it combines the bright lights, restaurants and shops of Times Square in New York City with boat rides on and along the Dōtonbori Canal.
36. Chicago, Illinois
As the 11th most expensive city in the nation, the cost of living in Chicago is higher than the national average. Home to the Chicago Riverwalk, Navy Pier, Wrigley Field and deep dish pizza, the “Windy City” has rental prices typically starting around $1,826 per month, with specific neighborhoods like River North and Streeterville starting at higher rates round $2,500.
35. Paris, France
The City of Love has architecture, food and fashion like no other, so it’s not surprising that living in the capital city of Paris is pretty pricey. A growing demand for housing and retail space combined with a lack of options on both fronts make affording real estate a costly challenge.
34. Busan, South Korea
As South Korea’s second-most populous city after Seoul, with a population of over 3.4 million people, Busan, a large port city on the Yellow Sea that makes most of its money through importing and exporting products, is home to beautiful beaches, mountains and temples. Tourists often come to the area since it’s known for being safe and friendly with low crime rates.
33. Munich, Germany
Competition in the housing market is what makes Munich one of the most expensive cities in Europe. According to locals, a single person can expect to spend almost a $1,000 a month, rent not included. Other expenses typically include utilities, transportation and health insurance.
32. Miami, Florida
Rising tax rates keep the Miami housing market prices at an all-time high. Because property taxes in Miami are among the highest in the country and general housing expenses are 40% higher than the national average, it’s very difficult to acquire property in this coastal city if you don’t have a high income.
31. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
30. Boston, Massachusetts
29. Washington, DC
This compact area on the Potomac River is home to the headquarters for the United States government as well as many iconic museums and performing arts venues. According to GoBankingRates.com, to live comfortably as a renter, you’d need to make a little over $87,000 a year, and to live comfortably as a homeowner, you’d need to make almost $140,000 a year, both of which are extremely difficult when you consider the fact that the medium income in Washington D.C. is around $90,000.
28. Taipei, Taiwan
Not only is Taipei a booming business center since it’s home to a huge number of tech companies, but Taipei is known for its amazing food vendors and restaurants, especially Shilin Night Market, that offer a wide variety of eats and treats.
27. Oslo, Norway
As the economic and governmental center of Norway, Oslo is a hub for trading, banking, industry and shipping, making it a thriving business center and affluent city. The eco-conscious capital city sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord river and is famous for its incredible seafood, museums and Viking/nautical history. With that in mind, it only makes sense that this bustling city costs the average person about $2,308 a month, making it one of the most expensive cities in the world.
26. Nanjing, China
25. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Famous for its stunning canals, interesting architecture, lively nightlife, art museums and more, Amsterdam is a city rich in character and history. The Netherlands’ capital is also one of the 10 most expensive places to live in Europe, with an average family of four needing to make a salary of about $4,800 a month to live comfortably.
24. Libreville, Gabon
Due to library and research institutes and a popular university all being based in this city, Libreville is considered a massive education hub for Gabon. On the downside, everyday prices, from rent to food, are extremely expensive due to high demand and a lack of available resources.
23. Bangui, Central African Republic
The central African city Bangui is a thriving commercial center thanks to its river port and connecting roads to other nations. Although housing isn’t overly expensive, additional amenities and services like Internet connection, mobile phones, furniture and kitchen appliances on average cost more.
21. Vienna, Austria
A 2018 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit named Vienna the world’s most livable city. The capital city, known for its thriving fine art, architecture and music scene, ranked #1 in things like academic excellence and overall quality of living on a survey of more than 140 cities. Although this and Vienna’s somewhat manageable monthly expenses, which top out around $866.85, makes the Austrian city a top place to reside, the growing influx of people brings a more competitive housing market.
20. Honolulu, Hawaii
You might be surprised to find that the cost of living in Honolulu, Hawaii is 93% higher than the national average, with a typical family of four expected to pay monthly costs of $5,017 (not factoring in rent) and housing expenses are 215% higher. Even more interesting is that utility prices are 64% higher, public transportation expenses are 33% higher, and grocery prices are 53% higher than the national average.
19. San Francisco, California
It’s no wonder there were nine people at one point living in the Tanner household in Full House back in the ’90s. Rent has always been pretty steep out on the West Coast, but home prices in San Francisco have increased 10% since early 2021, bringing the average price to around $1.5 million. Renters even need to make about $100,000 a year to live comfortably in “The Golden City.”
17. Los Angeles, California
There’s a reason Hollywood celebs are dropping a lot of dough on a new apartment or home. It costs a lot to live that glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. Not only is Los Angeles’ location a major reason why housing is so competitive, especially with a population of 10 million people, but LA’s high taxes for residents and sales tax of 9.5% make it a costly place to live. In January 2020, apartment rentals reached an average of over $2,500, almost doubling the national average.
15. London, England
This capital city of England and the United Kingdom has a population of just over 9 million people, and if you thought living there was pricey, just try owning and operating a business. With a restricted supply of product and high rental rates for storage space, folks often have to pay an extra chunk of change to purchase everyday essentials.
14. Seoul, South Korea
A cultural and artistic hotspot with modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways, temples, palaces and street markets, Seoul, South Korea has it all. Unfortunately, what they don’t have is cheap living expenses, since the average cost of living in the city is around $1,400 per person.
13. Shenzhen, China
12. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, named the world’s most expensive city in the world by Forbes in 2021, is an energizing city booming with business and billionaires. In 2021, it had the sixth largest concentration of billionaires in the world. As China’s biggest city and a global financial hub, with its stunning skyline, rich cultural history and more, it’s not shocking how many people want to live and reside in this coastal city. With so many people living and working there, however, the area has some of the highest prices, with the average cost of living coming in at around $1,453 a month.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Although Copenhagen’s colorful waterside buildings and architecture straight out of a fairy tale make it a dream city for many, the high taxes and prices make it extremely difficult. An everyday inhabitant can expect to pay over $1,000 per month in expenses, not including rent, and travelers will most likely spend around $108 to $205 a day.
10. Beijing, China
Compared to cities in the west, Beijing is actually quite affordable. But with a fast-growing population looking to find living quarters in the cultural and political center of China, it has one of the highest costs of living in the country. The population alone is a major reason why prices are so high and why the rent of a one-bedroom apartment has doubled in 10 years from around $360 to $700.
9. Tokyo, Japan
Japan is a nation known for its high living costs, especially in Tokyo. As a thriving city typically seen on the world’s top 10 most expensive cities list year after year, most folks who reside there spend a lot of money on high rent prices, followed by car ownership and transportation.
7. New York City, New York
6. Tel-Aviv, Israel
From stunning beaches to exciting nightlife and world-famous restaurants, Tel-Aviv has it all. But there’s a hefty price tag attached to all that fun. The largest city in Israel, Tel-Aviv has a reputation for being not only fun, but an incredibly diverse and tourist friendly place to visit. That being said, real estate is pretty expensive, with the average monthly rent for a one bedroom coming out to $1,725.
3. Geneva, Switzerland
2. Zürich, Switzerland
Just one glance at Zürich and you can see why the stunning city is one of the priciest in the world. The financial capital, which sits at the north end of Lake Zurich, is home to waterfront promenades, high-end shopping and decadent chocolate. It’s also the most expensive Swiss city to rent in, with an average rent cost of about $2,000 for a single person.
1. Hong Kong, China
The biggest reason Hong Kong tops this list is simply because of how many people reside in the Chinese city. With over 7 million people living in the city, it’s not necessarily the cost of rent that makes it a pricey city, but rather the competitive demand for housing and all the activities the city has to offer, like its endless markets, nightlife and attractions.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io