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What are the most expensive cities in the world in 2022?

ECA International, a global mobility company, has recently released its annual list of the most expensive places to live in the world. Yet again, Hong Kong has remained in the number one position for reasons such as a stronger currency and higher prices. This marks the SARs third consecutive year as the most expensive place to live in the world. We explore the most expensive cities in the world in 2022 in this Pacific Prime article.

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The most expensive cities globally

How does ECA International determine the highest cost of living cities, you ask? The company calculates the cost of living based on factors like the average cost of food, basics, utilities, and public transport. Note that the index focuses solely on expats and foreign workers in their rankings.

Here is the top 10 ranking for the most expensive cities in the world in 2022.

  1. Hong Kong
  2. New York
  3. Geneva
  4. London
  5. Tokyo
  6. Tel Aviv
  7. Zurich
  8. Shanghai
  9. Guangzhou
  10. Seoul

Asia dominates the charts

There’s no question that Asia is the most costly continent in 2022, as Asian cities count for half of the top 10. Those five cities include Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Seoul. And if you include the Middle East in Asia (as some regulators do), then there’s one more city in the top 10 to include, as Tel Aviv bagged the sixth spot.

On top of that, Asia is home to the fastest city to climb up the rankings. Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka, leaped an impressive 23 spots from 162 to 149. Several cities in Mainland China have also risen in the rankings. Not only is Shanghai the third most expensive city in Asia, but four Mainland Chinese cities now fall under the top 15 most expensive cities in the world.

Lee Quane, ECA International’s Regional Director – Asia, said:

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

Which cities dropped in the ranking?

By now, you’re probably wondering which cities have a lower cost of living in 2022 than in previous years. Paris, a city that once claimed the number one spot, is not even in the top 30. Other cities that fell in ranking include Brussels, Madrid, and Rome.

In fact, “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,” said Quane. Political and international conflicts are other external factors that also play a part. For instance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that many countries consequently placed contributed to Moscow’s 62nd spot and St Petersburg’s 147th.

Geneva in Switzerland is the most expensive in Europe, coming in third after Hong Kong and New York City. The country uses Swiss francs instead of euros. After Geneva, London and Zurich are the second and third most expensive cities in Europe. Reykjavik in Iceland comes in at 34th globally and 8th in Europe, rising nine spots in the continent’s top 10.

Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic also has an impact on economic factors like global supply chains and more.

Alternative cost of living rankings

Aside from ECA International, several other companies rank cities around the world according to economics. Every December, the Economist Intelligence Unit, or EIU, releases its Worldwide Cost of Living Index. Tel Aviv earned its place as the world’s most expensive place to live in 2021, followed by a tie between Paris and Singapore. Zurich came in fourth while Hong Kong was fifth.

In 2020, Hong Kong, Paris, and Zurich all tied at number one. Both ECA International and EIU’s lists factor in the cost of everyday items such as fuel and groceries. One major difference is that the EIU uses the US dollar, so Hong Kong and other economies that do the same tend to rank more highly.

But whichever way the cities are ordered on the various indexes, there’s no denying that cities in Asia, Europe, and North America are much costlier places to live than places like Africa and South America. How does your city rank?

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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