These Are The Most Expensive Cities in the World

You might want to avoid these cities if your wallet needs a break.


City life isn't for everyone. It's crowded, loud, and most of all, it's expensive. It can be, anyway. Some cities are more affordable than others, of course, but some make you wonder how anyone can afford to live there. While the cost of living might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're thinking about moving somewhere new, it's important.

Every year, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey looks at cities around the world and ranks them based on factors like the cost of housing, transportation, and food, among other things, to determine the world's most expensive places to live. In previous years, the cities ranked at the top of the list have been somewhat predictable. Hong Kong topped the list in 2020, with notoriously expensive American cities like New York and Los Angeles trailing close behind. This year, however, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey saw drastic—and somewhat unexpected—changes.

This year, Hong Kong slipped in the ratings from the number one most expensive city in the world to number two. It's situated right behind Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, which we're guessing not many people saw coming. Number three, Beirut, Lebanon, jumped a whopping 42 spots from 2020, due to political turmoil and inflation.

Here are the top 20 most expensive cities in the world for 2021:

  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Beirut, Lebanon
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Shanghai, China
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Beijing, China
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Shenzhen, China
  • Ndjamena, Chad
  • New York City, United States
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Guangzhou, China
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Libreville, Gabon

No American cities were listed in the top 10, which is probably a shocker to people paying sky-high rent prices to live in shoebox-sized apartments in places like New York and San Francisco. That doesn't mean these places have gotten any cheaper though. New York is still listed among the top 20 most expensive cities in the world, so don't get too optimistic about your rent going down any time soon.

While American cities fell behind in this year's survey, a number of cities in the United Kingdom climbed the ranks. London rose to number 18 on the list, up one spot from the previous year. Birmingham and Glasgow each shot up eight and 10 spots respectively. Meanwhile, cities people typically equate with being expensive, like Dubai, Paris, and Miami, didn't even crack the top 20.

In terms of the least expensive cities, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey found those too. This year, the cheapest cities were Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Lusaka, Zambia; and Tbilisi, Georgia.

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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it—find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.