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The world’s top 25 most expensive cities for wealthy expats in 2021

If you’re an expat with a penchant for luxury then the Asia Pacific is calling you. As the most expensive place to be affluent, Asia’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic has maintained high prices. According to Julius Baer’s Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2021, the most populated continent is still the most expensive for high-net-worth individuals (HNWI). The region’s swift response to the ongoing health crisis, as well as generally stable currencies, has kept the cost of luxury goods stable. This Pacific Prime article takes a closer look at the most expensive cities in the world for the wealthy.

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Most expensive cities in the world 2021

The first four cities on the list of most expensive places across the globe for HNWIs are now in Asia. Shanghai in China jumped to the number one spot of most expensive cities to live in the world as a high earner – a list that includes 25 places in total. Hong Kong, which earned the top ranking last year moved down to third place while Tokyo kept its second-place title. The Western European state of Monaco and Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, came in at fourth and fifth respectively. The 25 most expensive cities in the world for 2021 are as follows:

  1. Shanghai
  2. Tokyo
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Monaco
  5. Taipei
  6. Zurich
  7. Paris
  8. London
  9. Singapore
  10. New York
  11. Bangkok
  12. Dubai
  13. Milan
  14. Sydney
  15. Barcelona
  16. Manila
  17. Frankfurt
  18. Moscow
  19. Miami
  20. Jakarta
  21. Sao Paulo
  22. Mumbai
  23. Mexico City
  24. Vancouver
  25. Johannesburg

The annual report’s findings show that COVID-19 did not affect Asia as much as other places in the index. The Middle East and Europe placed second, with most of the region’s global cities supported by the strength of the Swiss Franc and Euro. As the region to have been hit hardest by the global health crisis, the Americas came out as also the cheapest for living a luxury lifestyle as both the Canadian and US dollars were beaten by other strong global currencies, along with the sharp depreciation of Latin American currencies.

The latest luxury goods the wealthy are after

If you’re wondering how the ranking for most expensive cities in the world for the well-to-do works, it’s based on the price of certain luxury goods. Specifically, luxury goods are based on discretionary spending by HNWIs across the 25 international cities. The most noticeable difference this year is that four items (out of 18) were cut out as the global pandemic changed consumption.

Botox, personal trainers, pianos, and wedding banquets got the boot and were replaced by health insurance, treadmills, bicycles, and a technology package including a phone and laptop. With lockdowns across the globe, it’s no surprise that health, fitness, and personal technology have skyrocketed in popularity while the cost of women’s shoes, on the other hand, has taken a nosedive. Other luxury goods that witnessed a significant decline include wine and hotel suites while whisky, watches, and business class flights increased.

While time will tell whether these items will continue to stay on the list, pandemic-induced changes are expected to be long-lasting.

With its rapid economic growth, Asia is predicted to hold its position as the most expensive region in the world for the rich for the years to come. India is also worth watching, as it is likely to become more and more expensive, even though Mumbai is currently one of the more affordable international cities in the region.

For the time being, China will hold its position as the world’s leading luxury goods market as the Chinese affluent consumer starts to have an effect. The luxury goods market is forecasted to be made up of China at 47-49%, America at 16-18%, and Europe at 12-14%. However, the report also noted that conscious consumption and preferred experiences versus goods could alter the spending habits of wealthy individuals in the coming years.

As conscious consumption goes mainstream, people may take fewer long-haul flights, opt for electric vehicles, reject fast fashion, and change their diets. Generation Z consumers, in particular, seem to be enthusiastic about this trend.

The same COVID-19 pandemic that has quickly impacted the entire world and left many people without jobs has also made others richer. The tech and healthcare industries have done exceptionally well amidst the crisis, as people prioritize online interactions and their health.

Prioritize your health with Pacific Prime

If the current global health crisis isn’t enough to encourage you to secure health insurance, then increasing healthcare costs might – which you can learn more about by downloading our latest Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2020-2021. Make sure you can afford to put your health first by getting international health insurance today.

With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you get the right plan for your unique requirements and budget regardless of what country you are in. Contact us for impartial advice or a free plan comparison today.

Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs
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