The World’s Most Expensive Cities Are Exactly Where You’d Expect
— 2 December 2022

The World’s Most Expensive Cities Are Exactly Where You’d Expect

— 2 December 2022
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

[NOTE: This article feature’s two different ranked lists regarding the most expensive cities in the world for 2022. One by ECA International, as well as the recently published data from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which you’ll find at the bottom of this article.]

Global mobility company and cost of living experts – ECA International – has published its annual list of the most expensive cities in the world for 2022.

For the third consecutive year, Hong Kong has claimed the honour/dishonour of being the priciest location for expatriates and foreign workers. But as just one of four cities from Asia to make the Top 10 – and just one of ten cities from Asia to make the Top 20 – there’s clearly a larger trend at hand.

RELATED: Here Are The World’s Richest Cities For 2021

Most Expensive Cities In The World - Most Expensive City - 2022 - Hong Kong

“The majority of the mainland Chinese cities in our rankings have higher rates of inflation than we are used to seeing, but they are still typically lower than elsewhere in Asia,” explains Lee Quane, ECA Regional Director for Asia.

“Therefore, the main reason for their rise in the rankings has been the continued strength of the Chinese yuan against other major currencies.”

“After an extended period of low inflation, Tokyo hit its highest inflation rate in three decades, but the Japanese capital has dropped below London in the ranking due to the yen remaining weaker than other major currencies combined with relatively flat rental costs.”  

Asia is also where you’ll find the fastest-rising city on the ECA International’s list of most expensive cities. Colombo – Sri Lanka’s main metropolis – progressed 23 places upwards from 162nd to 149th.

Most Expensive Cities In The World - Most Expensive City - 2022 - Colombo Sri Lanka

Anyone looking for a change of scenery might do well to consider certain pockets of Europe’s united nations.

According to ECA International, Paris – which topped the list in past years – has soundly fallen outside of the Top 30, while the likes of Rome, Madrid, and Brussels are also easing off the money pedal.

“Nearly every major Eurozone city saw a drop in the rankings this year as the euro performed worse in the last 12 months than the US dollar and British pound,” adds Lee Quane.

Where do the most expensive Australian cities rank globally?

“Inflation has risen significantly in Australia, as it has in many countries,” notes ECA International Production Manager Steven Kilfedder.

“But the weak Aussie dollar has made the country a little cheaper for visitors than before, which explains the small fall in ranking for most cities.”

“Sydney has bucked the trend but only because other cities around it have fallen.”

Here are the most expensive cities in Australia for expatriates and foreign workers…

  1. Sydney (39th)
    2021 Ranking:
  2. Canberra (55th)
    2021 Ranking: 52nd
  3. Melbourne (56th)
    2021 Ranking: 51st
  4. Perth (76th)
    2021 Ranking: 74th
Most Expensive Cities In The World - Most Expensive City - 2022 - Sydney Australia

How have the world’s most expensive cities been determined?

ECA International determines its living report and overall rankings using a basket of day-to-day goods + services commonly purchased by assignees. This time around, the company’s primary research was conducted between a survey period of September 2021 and March of 2022.

Cost of living indices are used by ECA clients to calculate cost of living allowances for assignees. Factors considered include:

  • Food Prices
    Groceries, dairy produce, meat & fish, fresh fruit & vegetables 
  • Basic Costs
    Household goods, recreational goods, general services, leisure services
  • General Costs
    Clothing, electrical goods, motoring, meals out, alcohol & tobacco
  • Utilities Costs
    Water, electric, gas, internet
  • Public Transport Prices
    Bus, train, taxi

RELATED: Get Paid $88,000 To Live In “One Of The World’s Most Beautiful Places”

How has record-high petrol prices impacted the rankings?

Fuel, of course, is one of the major contributing factors to an increased cost of living across the world these days as demand “surged ahead of supply” throughout 2022 — escalated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On average, petrol prices have faced a 37% increase, with the only place unaffected being Bamako in Mali.

“Most dramatically, Beirut (Lebanon) saw a 1,128% increase since last year, while Istanbul (Turkey) experienced a 156% increase,” reveals ECA International.

“Elsewhere in Europe, petrol prices have increased across the continent, with Tirana (Albania) seeing the next largest increase at 46%.”

“St Petersburg in Russia saw the smallest price increase in Europe, rising only 10% despite the sweeping sanctions in place, thanks to their domestic oil supply and refining capacity.”

“Meanwhile, in London, motorists are paying 23% more for their petrol than last year – or £18.72 more for a 60 litre tank.”

The other oil problem

Yet another unintended consequence surrounding the war in Ukraine vis-a-vis cost of living? The widespread shortage of crops like sunflowers, which is used for cooking oil.

This, along with a palm oil shortage, has caused cooking oil prices to climb by an average of 25% in the last year across the ranked cities — although it’s much higher in select cities.

Sarajevo in Bosnia saw prices more than double (113%) while prices rose by more than 50% in Mexico City (87%), Istanbul (66%), and Casablanca (55%) among others.

Check out the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates and foreign workers according to ECA International.

The Most Expensive Cities In The World (ECA International)

  1. Hong Kong
    2021 Ranking:
  2. New York (United States of America)
    2021 Ranking:
  3. Geneva (Switzerland)
    2021 Ranking:
  4. London (United Kingdom)
    2021 Ranking:
  5. Tokyo (Japan)
    2021 Ranking:
  6. Tel Aviv (Israel)
    2021 Ranking:
  7. Zurich (Switzerland)
    2021 Ranking:
  8. Shanghai (China)
    2021 Ranking:
  9. Guangzhou (China)
    2021 Ranking:
  10. Seoul (South Korea)
    2021 Ranking:
  11. San Francisco (United States of America)
    2021 Ranking:
  12. Shenzhen (China)
    2021 Ranking:
  13. Singapore
    2021 Ranking:
  14. Beijing (China)
    2021 Ranking:
  15. Jerusalem (Israel)
    2021 Ranking:
  16. Bern (Switzerland)
    2021 Ranking:
  17. Yokohama (Japan)
    2021 Ranking:
  18. Copenhagen (Denmark)
    2021 Ranking:
  19. Oslo (Norway)
    2021 Ranking:
  20. Taipei (Taiwan)
    2021 Ranking:
Most Expensive Cities In The World - Most Expensive City - 2022 - Hong Kong

The Most Expensive Cities In The World (Other Rankings)

In December, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released its own annual Worldwide Cost of Living Index to reveal the most expensive and cheapest cities of 2022.

Similar to ECA International, it calculated aggregate scores based on factors such as the average price of fuel, the cost of public transport, groceries, and just about every other living expense.

Results indicate that the average cost of living is up 8.1% in 2022 with the biggest reasons being the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine as well as the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While last year Tel Aviv came in at the top spot, the EIU now place New York City as the number one most expensive place to live right now. This is the first time the Big Apple has topped a list like this, surprisingly, but it also comes tied with Singapore. The Asian city-state has always been hovering around up high on this list, and last year was placed at number two with Paris, France.

The EIU’s home city, London, fell quite a bit down the list this year to come in at the 27th spot. That’s good news for any Aussies hoping to move to the British capital. Elsewhere in Europe, Zurich comes in at the sixth spot, followed closely by Geneva, then Paris and Copenhagen.

Last year’s number one, Tel Aviv still seems like quite the expensive city to live in as it only slid down the list to number two.

RELATED: The World’s Most Liveable Cities In 2021 Revealed

Despite the current chat over Australia’s ridiculous housing market, only one Aussie city has made the top 10 this year. So as much as we like to go about how expensive both Sydney and Melbourne have become, this EIU list indicates that there is much, much worse out there as we continue to slide further into a global recession – one, mind you, that ‘The Big Short’s Michael Burry says will last for years.

That being said, Sydney scored 83 points in the index, which places it on equal-footing with Copenhagen at the 10th spot on this list.

The EIU compares over 400 individual prices across more than 200 products and services in 172 cities. As with the ECA International list above, it’s a very comprehensive run-through of the most expensive places to live each year given it also includes luxury products in its calculations, whereas the ECA does not.

Most Expensive Cities In The World - Most Expensive City - 2022 - Tel Aviv Tel Aviv Tel Aviv

Economist Intelligence Unit’s Most Expensive Cities (2022)

  1. New York (tie for 1st)
  2. Singapore (tie for 1st)
  3. Tel Aviv, Israel
  4. Hong Kong (tie for 4th)
  5. Los Angeles (tie for 4th)
  6. Zurich, Switzerland
  7. Geneva, Switzerland
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. Paris, France
  10. Copenhagen, Denmark (tie for 10th)
  11. Sydney, Australia (tie for 10th)

Economist Intelligence Unit’s Cheapest Cities (2022)

  1. Damasus, Syria
  2. Tripoli, Libya
  3. Tehran, Iran
  4. Tunis, Tunisia
  5. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  6. Karachi, Pakistan
  7. Almaty, Kazakhstan
  8. Ahmedabad, India
  9. Chennai, India
  10. Algiers, Algeria

Check out the original study published by ECA International below.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]