The 10 most expensive cities in the world

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10 places in 8 countries

Money talks, and in these ten cities, it speaks the loudest. According to the Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2023 by Julius Bär, the top ten priciest cities in the world are Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, New York, Monaco, Dubai, Taipei, São Paulo, and Miami.

This article will give you a peek into these cities, where high living costs meet high living standards. You will get a sense of what makes these cities so expensive and what you can expect if you decide to visit or live in one of them. From housing prices to the cost of a cup of coffee, we'll explore what it means to live in some of the world's most costly cities. Let’s dive in.


City in🇸🇬 Singaporerated

Topping the list, Singapore. The city-state's economy thrives on its status as a global finance, business and transport hub. This status, coupled with high property prices and costly dining options, significantly contributes to the city's high cost of living. The strength of Singapore's currency plays an important role as well.

Although expensive, Singapore provides an efficient and safe city experience. City’s efficient public transportation system, including its extensive MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) network, makes navigating the city straightforward and quite affordable. One of the city's most notable attractions is Gardens by the Bay, an innovative garden featuring climate-controlled biomes that showcase various plants from around the world.

Another upside to Singapore is its food scene. Although dining can be expensive, the city also offers affordable options, particularly at its numerous hawker centers. These food courts serve a variety of dishes such as chicken rice and laksa, allowing visitors to experience Singapore's culinary culture without breaking the bank.

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City in🇨🇳 Chinarated

Shanghai, ranked second among the world's most costly cities, serves as a major financial hub and a frequented tourist spot. The city's high living cost can be attributed to its strong economy, soaring real estate prices, and increasing demand for upscale goods and services.

Shanghai is known for its skyscrapers and the renowned Bund waterfront area. The Bund is a key historical region, featuring structures that exhibit a range of architectural styles from Gothic to Baroque. Across the Huangpu River, you can find the Pudong district, home to some of Shanghai's most recent constructions such as the Shanghai Tower and Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

Shanghai's food scene is one factor that contributes to its expensiveness. The city is home to numerous pricey restaurants that offer a mix of local and international dishes. However, this should not stop you from sampling local food. Shanghai's xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, are worth trying and can be found at various prices across the city.

Shopping in Shanghai can be a luxury experience, with many designer brand stores and shopping centers. Nanjing Road, one of the busiest shopping streets worldwide, offers a variety of both international and Chinese brands.

The high cost of living in Shanghai mirrors its status as an international city. However! With careful budgeting and planning, it's possible to appreciate what the city has to offer without overspending.

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Hong Kong

City in🇨🇳 Chinarated

Hong Kong is ranked as the third most expensive city worldwide. This city is densely populated and has a skyline dominated by tall buildings, a consequence of its geographical limitations that force upward growth. The fierce competition for limited space in this city is a primary reason for the soaring property prices, which contributes to high accommodation costs for both residents and tourists.

Even though living and traveling in Hong Kong can be costly, it can provide experiences that justify the expense. The city's food scene is reflective of its fusion of eastern and western cultures. Traditional dishes like dim sum and wonton noodle soup are readily available, as are meals from international gourmet restaurants.

Among the city's many attractions, the view from Victoria Peak stands out. This viewpoint provides an unmatched view of the city, but visitors should be ready to pay for the Peak Tram ticket. Avenue of Stars is another popular tourist spot in Hong Kong. This public space celebrates the city's cinematic history, paying tribute to some of its most notable film stars. It also offers an excellent view of Victoria Harbour, which can be enjoyed for free. For those interested in religious architecture, the Wong Tai Sin Temple is a noteworthy place to visit. It is one of the most famous temples in Hong Kong, well-regarded for its beautiful design and colorful decorations.

Nature lovers should not miss out on visiting the Hong Kong Wetland Park. This reserve offers walking trails through various habitats, allowing visitors to see a wide range of wildlife. While it is located a bit further away from the city center, the journey is well worth it for those who enjoy nature.

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City in🇬🇧 United Kingdomrated

London is the fourth most expensive city in the world, with high property prices, expensive public transportation, and high food and drink prices contributing to the cost of living. As the capital of the United Kingdom, it is home to many cultural and historical landmarks which attract millions of tourists each year.

What to visit when you get there yourself? Try the British Museum, which houses a vast collection of world art and artifacts, the Tower of London, a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. Or the Houses of Parliament, an iconic symbol of London and another must-visit site.

The city also offers shopping opportunities, with Oxford Street being a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames, offers visitors a bird's eye view of the city.

Traditional English food, such as fish and chips or a Sunday roast, is available in many pubs and restaurants. But visitors should note that eating out in London can be expensive.

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New York

City in🇺🇸 United Statesrated

New York is one of the priciest cities in the world, thanks to its high-value real estate. Apartment prices in Manhattan often reach millions, and the cost of dining out is high due to the city's abundance of top-tier restaurants. Food choices range all the way from hot dog stands to high-end restaurants like Eleven Madison Park.

The city's high costs don't deter tourists, drawn by its wealth of experiences on offer. Landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park are something you shouldn’t miss. The city has many museums, galleries, and theaters contributing to a lively cultural scene.

Apart from the landmarks, New York has an impressive array of parks. The High Line, a park built on a former elevated train track, offers a unique perspective of the city's streetscape. New York is also home to some of the world's most respected educational institutions, including Columbia University and New York University.

For sports enthusiasts, catching a game at the Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden can be an exciting experience. The city also has a vast public transportation system, making it easy for visitors to explore different neighborhoods.

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City in🇲🇨 Monacorated

Monaco, the second smallest country in the world, holds a sixth position in the list of most expensive cities globally. The cost of living in this micro-state is significantly high due to its limited land area and high demand for luxury properties. Its status as a tax haven attracts wealthy individuals and corporations from around the world, further driving up property prices. Despite its size, Monaco is home to over 120 nationalities and is known for its safety, political stability, and temperate weather.

Visitors to Monaco will find upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment. The city-state's Casino de Monte-Carlo is well-known. This complex contains a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

Monaco also hosts the annual Monaco Grand Prix, legendary F1 race, and even when the open wheelers aren’t flying through city’s streets, you will see supercars on every corner.

While in Monaco, you can also visit the Prince's Palace, a 12th-century fortress turned residence of the Grimaldi family. The palace offers guided tours to the public where you can see lavish rooms filled with antique furniture and art. Another must-see is the Oceanographic Museum, where you can explore the diverse marine life in the Mediterranean and tropical waters.

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City in🇦🇪 United Arab Emiratesrated

Dubai, listed as the seventh most expensive city in the world, is known for its luxury shopping, contemporary buildings, and active nightlife. This city houses some of the highest structures globally, such as the Burj Khalifa - the tallest skyscraper in the world. Dubai's wealth is not only seen in its architecture but also tasted in its food. Dining here can be pricey, with top-tier restaurants offering meals like stuffed camel, Al Harees, and Shawarma - all popular local dishes.

Despite Dubai's apparent wealth, tourists must respect the city's firm laws and traditions. Disobedience may lead to severe penalties or even jail time. And despite its modern appearance, the city can be hard to get around due to its fast growth and intricate road network. Public transport is an option but may be packed during busy times.

Visitors can learn about the region's history and traditions at the Dubai Museum located in the Al Fahidi Fort. The Jumeirah Mosque is another point of interest, offering a glimpse into Islamic architecture and culture. For nature lovers, the Dubai Miracle Garden and the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo offer unique experiences.

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City in🇹🇼 Taiwanrated

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, features busy food markets, and ancient temples below some of the tallest buildings in the world. The Taipei 101 tower is a key feature of the city's skyline. It houses high-end stores and an elevator that gives you a complete view of the city. High property prices in Taipei rank among the world's most expensive, pushing up the cost of living. The price of imported goods and international schooling also add to these costs. Despite this, Taipei can be budget friendly for everyone who's visiting. You will be able to get a taste of local cusine and get around the city on cheap.

The city offers a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Western cultures. Visiting Taipei's night markets is a common activity. The Shilin Night Market is one of the most visited ones. Here, you can try Taiwanese snacks like stinky tofu, bubble tea, and oyster omelettes. However, like in any large city, you need to watch out for pickpockets and avoid crowded places. Despite its efficient public transport system, Taipei can have heavy traffic, especially during rush hours. English is taught in schools, but not everyone in Taipei speaks it fluently.

Other points of interest include the National Palace Museum, which holds one of the world's largest collections of Chinese art. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is another significant site, dedicated to the former president of the Republic of China. The Maokong Gondola provides a scenic cable car ride to the top of a mountain where visitors can enjoy local tea at one of the many teahouses. The Taipei Zoo is also a popular attraction for families with children. The Beitou district is known for its hot springs and the nearby Yangmingshan National Park offers hiking trails and stunning views over Taipei.

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São Paulo

City in🇧🇷 Brazilrated

São Paul serves as Brazil's economic heart and is the largest city in South America. The high living cost primarily results from the high real estate prices and costly private services like education and healthcare. São Paulo's cityscape is marked by towering buildings and heavy traffic. The city has a diverse culinary landscape, offering local specialties such as feijoada, a pork and black bean stew.

However, São Paulo does have safety issues. The city's crime rates are high, with theft and robbery being common crimes. Visitors are advised not to flaunt costly items in public and to stay in crowded areas, especially after dark. São Paulo's traffic can be dense, so travelers should consider this when planning their schedule. Despite these difficulties, São Paulo houses various attractions worth visiting. These include Ibirapuera Park, the São Paulo Museum of Art, and the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo, where visitors can taste traditional Brazilian dishes.

Newly introduced pedestrian-friendly streets in the city centre have revitalized the urban experience. The Avenida Paulista, one of the city's main streets, is closed to vehicles on Sundays and becomes a vibrant hub for cyclists and pedestrians. The city also hosts the São Paulo Fashion Week and the São Paulo International Film Festival, showcasing the city's creative side. Cultural venues like the Pinacoteca do Estado and the Museu Afro Brasil reflect the city's rich history and population. Yet, São Paulo's most significant feature may be its people, known as Paulistanos, who bring life to this dynamic metropolis.

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City in🇺🇸 United Statesrated

Miami, ranked as the tenth priciest city worldwide, is known for its warm beaches and varied cultural mix. It's easy to recognize the city's unique art deco architecture, especially in South Beach. Miami Design District is worth a visit for those interested in cutting-edge fashion, design, architecture, and food. Miami is also home to a significant Cuban-American community, so it's a great place to experience Cuban food. Try a traditional Cubano sandwich or a serving of ropa vieja.

What to watch out for? The high cost of living in Miami can surprise tourists, especially when it comes to housing and eating out. Miami relies heavily on cars, and public transport isn't always reliable. The city's popular beaches can become overly crowded during the height of the tourist season.

Adding to the city's attractions, Miami hosts several annual events like Art Basel Miami Beach, a leading international art fair attracting artists and art lovers from around the globe. The city is also home to several parks and nature reserves, including Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park, where visitors can experience unique wildlife and landscapes. But be prepared for the city's humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and short, warm winters. Miami is prone to hurricanes from June to November, so check the weather forecasts before your trip.

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