The world is an expensive place, but there are some places — especially cities — where life is just extortionate. Sure, they can be glamorous and full of things to see and places to go. But what is it like for people that actually live there day after day?
Is it worth paying up to $4,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment just so you can say you live in London or New York City? Would it be worth the beautiful scenery to live in Zurich, where a dozen eggs can cost you a mind-boggling $8? Let’s explore what’s so great about the 10 most expensive cities in the world, working our way down to number one.
10 Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is a gorgeous city famous for its beautifully maintained historical landmarks including Elsinore Castle, the Church of Our Lady, and more. Its residents are such a cheery bunch that Denmark was the voted the “happiest country on earth” in a survey by CNN Travel.
But Copenhagen is a hugely expensive place to live. Many residents travel by bike, and that could well be because the average price of a new car in Copenhagen is en eye-watering $46,695. Day-to-day items will also leave a huge hole in your pocket.
So even if you decide to save cash on gas by cycling to the local McDonald’s, a “budget” Super Value Meal will still set you back a super-sized $12 while a movie at the cinema costs the equivalent of $17. However, regardless of the cost of living the locals love it, and Copenhagen was voted 2013’s best city in the world to live in according to respected magazine Monocle.
9 San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is known for its flamboyant style, eclectic arts scene, and being home to the Golden Gate Bridge and its rows of Victorian houses – best seen in the opening scenes of the early 1990s hit Full House. Almost all residents agree that it is a great place to live and has lots to offer including a huge array of cultural activities all year round.
It’s a liberal place, and animal charity PETA considers it one of the most “vegetarian-friendly cities” in the US. It’s also one of the healthiest cities in America according to Prevention Magazine, but everything comes with a price. A very basic one-bedroom apartment in downtown San Fran has an average monthly rent of $2,568. And it could be that the city’s so healthy because no one can afford to smoke, as a pack of cigarettes will set you back $7.
8 Paris, France
The French capital is known for being full of history, stunning architecture, and of course, the Eiffel Tower and the famous Louvre art gallery. Although many visitors view those that live there as rude, residents say Paris a wonderful, liberating place to live — full of excitement, and with a great quality of life.
People love to stroll around the streets and parks of Paris, but there could be a good reason for this. Gas costs $7.38 per gallon and tolls are simply astronomical on public roads. On the bright side, if you’re avoiding driving you’ll be able to drink as much as you like — and there are hundred of bars around Paris that sell fabulous cheap wine.
Residents of Singapore often complain that there is little to do other than shop, eat, and go to the movies. The city is quite well known among those into high fashion for being home to Orchard Rd, where you can find every couture label imaginable from Chanel to Prada.
Singapore is also home to the beautiful Botanical Gardens, which give visitors a chance to experience the countryside while still right in the middle of the city. There is one major problem about Singapore — it’s called inflation. In recent years things there have got mightily expensive.
A small cup of coffee can set you back $4.85. And you’ll need a car to get to the coffee shop. In Singapore a Volkwagon Golf 1.4 Trendline will cost you $105,000 — around 300 per cent more than the equivalent car in most other parts of the world.
6 Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne is known for its beautiful, gothic architecture such as the Lausanne Cathedral and being home to the Olympic Museum. It is also where the International Olympic Committee is based. It’s a lovely small city with a slow pace of life, and an abundance of cultural and outdoor activities on offer.
The cost of living is high, although the average monthly disposable salary is an impressive $6,171.59 — so most people who live there can afford it. This money does go quickly, however, with a 500 square foot one-bedroom apartment costing an average of $1,509.62 a month.
Although that might not too expensive compared to some of the other cities listed here, the cost of everything else is. A monthly fitness club membership will cost you around $137 in Lausanne and a single movie ticket can set you back $20.
5 New York City
It would be next to impossible to find someone who has not heard of NYC. It’s known for its diversity, abundance of great stores, bars, delis, and more tourist attractions and activities than you could ever take in during one trip. It is also known for being pretty pricey.
Most residents opt to forego a car due to notoriously bad traffic, instead using the subway — which costs $112 a month for a ticket, despite often seeming overcrowded and dirty to outsiders. Who knows how locals can even afford that when a tiny one-bedroom city centre apartment sets you back an average of $2,912.58 per month.
Despite all that, people who live in New York love the fast pace of life, and the access to almost anything at any time of day or night that comes with living in a 24-hour city. If you pay the right price, you can get pretty much whatever you want delivered right to your door.
4 Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is the second city in Switzerland to make our list of most expensive cities, and there’s still one to come. Zurich is surrounded by vast expanses of snow-covered mountains, and a stunning countryside — especially during the spring when flowers bloom in a dazzling array of colors.
Residents consider it one of the best cities in the world to live in because of its central location in Europe and the easy connections to other countries via train or plane. Zurich also offers great shopping, and beautiful sights. But living at the foot of the Alps doesn’t come cheap.
In order to view the nearby nature at its best, you would obviously need comfortable shoes, but a basic pair of Nike trainers will set you back an around $190 in Zurich. And don’t forget your 0.33liter (11oz) bottle of water to keep you hydrated — that’ll cost you $4 a piece.
3 Geneva, Switzerland
The third, and final, city from Switzerland is the most expensive on our list and also the most historical. It is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations, trendy art galleries, magnificent parks, the shores of Lake Geneva, and much more. Some of the best ski resorts in the Alps are just an hour away, and it is also only a ten-minute drive to the French border.
Residents appreciate the fact that it being a tiny city means that everything is essentially within walking distance. That’s a good thing, as riding just half a mile in a taxi costs over $3. And all that walking and skiing means they should do enough exercise so that they don’t have to join a gym, which is just a well as the average fitness club costs $106 a month.
2 Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a beautiful city, known for its Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park which contains 212 sculptures by renowned sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. It is also home to the world-famous Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.
Oslo is safe, easy to get around, has great food, and has minimal traffic. The only problem is that is living there isn’t cheap. From paying $12.50 for a one-day subway pass, $10 for a small fruit yoghurt, and $4.31 for a 11oz bottle of Coke, you can easily go broke before lunchtime.
1 London, England
London is currently the most expensive city in the world. It’s known for its royal family, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, and iconic black taxis. Residents love the history, diversity, the fashion, and the fact that famous people are often seen out walking around town.
London is also renowned for great nightlife and locals never stop going on about how there’s nowhere better to live. The one major downfall? It’s more expensive than anywhere else on Earth. The average cost of a home is slightly over $950,000, a gallon of gas is an astounding $9.80 on average, and a pack of cigarettes costs $12.93. A dozen eggs can be bought for $6.33…and the list goes on. Apparently the streets are even paved with gold.
You can view some great pics of London in our Pictures section.
Have you ever lived in any of these cities? How did you find the cost of living?