Most Expensive Cities In The World In 2023: Singapore, Zurich Top The List

Singapore and Zurich have jointly dethroned New York City as the most expensive cities in the world to live in, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 report. Hong Kong, at fifth place, is the only other Asian city in the top 10.

This ranking is based on a comparison of over 400 individual prices for everyday goods and services across 173 cities worldwide. The survey was carried out between 14 August and 11 September.

EIU’s survey found that prices rose by 7.4 per cent year on year on average in local-currency terms.

“Price growth has slowed from the 8.1 per cent reported in last year’s survey, but remains significantly above the trend in 2017-21,” the report says.

How Singapore and Zurich became most expensive cities

Zurich was the joint most expensive city with Singapore in EIU’s 2023 list. (Image credit: Tomek Baginski/@tombag/Unsplash)

Several factors contributed to Singapore’s climb to the top. The high cost of car ownership, coupled with rising grocery and alcohol prices, pushed the city-state ahead of its previous co-leader, New York City.

According to EIU, this is the ninth time in the last eleven years that the Lion City has taken the top spot.

Zurich returned to the No.1 position after three years on the back of a strong Swiss franc and expensive essential goods and recreation. The Swiss city was sixth in last year’s survey.

How did other cities rank on the list?

Most expensive cities in the world 2023 san francisco
Image credit: Joseph Barrientos/Unsplash

There were significant shifts in certain regions despite the global average price increase for everyday items slowing down slightly.

Los Angeles and San Francisco were the only other US cities to crack the top 10 alongside New York City. EIU notes that the appreciation of foreign currencies against the US dollar and the hawkish monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve have led to a majority of the 22 US cities in the survey falling down the ranks.


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Elsewhere, Mexican cities such as Santiago de Querétaro and Aguascalientes saw their costs rise due to the strengthening peso.

Tel Aviv in Israel is among the other cities in the top 10. Though Israel is geographically an Asian county, the EIU report does not club Tel Aviv with other Asian cities. The EIU notes that the survey was conducted “before the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which has affected the exchange rates in Israel and may have made it harder to procure some goods in Tel Aviv, thereby affecting prices.”

Major Asian cities see drop in rankings

A view of Nanjing, one of the four Chinese cities which saw a decline in ranking. (Image credit: Kenneth Yang/@kennth1982/Unsplash)

Chinese cities such as Nanjing, Wuxi, Dalian and Beijing benefited from the country’s slow post-pandemic recovery and subdued consumer demand, leading to their decline in the rankings.

Two Japanese cities, Osaka and Tokyo, were among the biggest movers down the ranking this year. The weaker Japanese yen forced Tokyo to slip 23 places to 60th position, while Osaka dropped 27 spots to rank 70th.

The Syrian city of Damascus continued to be the cheapest city in the world despite a 321 per cent increase in its cost-of-living basket price.

10 most expensive cities in the world 2023 list:

Rank 1 (tied) — Singapore

Rank 1 (tied) — Zurich

Rank 3 (tied) — Geneva

Rank 3 (tied) — New York

Rank 5 — Hong Kong

Rank 6 — Los Angeles

Rank 7 — Paris

Rank 8 (tied) — Copenhagen

Rank 8 (tied) — Tel Aviv

Rank 10 — San Francisco

Click here for the complete report.

(Hero and featured image credit: Julien de Salaberry/Unsplash)

This article first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Singapore