These are the world's top 10 most expensive cities

Parisians spend about $6 on freshly baked bread, while in Zurich a humble loaf costs about $5

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From skyrocketing grocery bills to rising rents, some of the world’s most expensive cities continue to boast thriving populations despite everyday goods costing an arm and leg.

Late last year, The Economist's annual Worldwide Cost of Living report revealed a three-way tie for the top spot.

Paris, Hong Kong and Zurich were pitted as the most expensive cities, out of 133 contenders.

Calculations were based on the price of a basket of everyday products, from meats and fish, fruit and vegetables, household toiletries and cleaning products.

The survey also took into account the cost of clothes, utility bills, entertainment, transport and rent.

In fourth place was Singapore, followed by Osaka in Japan and Tel Aviv in Israel.

The report showed how the Covid-19 pandemic changed the cost of living in all cities surveyed since the start of last year.

While Hong Kong managed to hold on to first place with two other cities, Singapore and Osaka dropped down a few pegs because of currency fluctuations and changing spending habits.

So, when it comes to that everyday shop, just how much can we expect to pay for a loaf of bread in the top 10 priciest metropolises?

Parisians spend about $6 (Dh22) on freshly baked bread. Not far behind is Zurich, where a humble loaf would set consumers back $5 (Dh18) and in Hong Kong, it’s a slightly more manageable $4 (Dh14).

In New York, Geneva and Los Angeles, which hold eighth, ninth and 10th spots, respectively, a loaf costs more, between $6 and $9.

Other than tobacco, the steepest average increase in the index came in the recreation category. And the biggest driver for the increase was consumer electronics.

The cost of a personal computer rose by 18.7 points on average last year, with Osaka taking top spot. A computer would set you back about $1,800 (Dh6,500) in the Japanese city.

Here, The National has compiled a list of the 10 most expensive cities in the world, with a sneak peek at some of the city's most expensive products.

These are the world's most expensive cities:

  1. Hong Kong (equal first place)
  2. Paris, France (equal first place)
  3. Zurich, Switzerland (equal first place)
  4. Singapore
  5. Osaka, Japan
  6. Tel Aviv, Israel
  7. Geneva, Switzerland
  8. New York, US
  9. Copenhagen, Denmark
  10. Los Angeles, US

1. Hong Kong 

This impressive metropolis was named the most expensive city in the world, mainly due to its high housing prices. According to Global Property Guide, Hong Kong's residential property prices rose by more than 2.5 per cent during 2020 (up to Q3).

2. Paris, France

The French capital - ranked the fifth most expensive city in 2019 - is one of four European destinations on the 2020 top 10 list. Only alcohol, transport and tobacco offer value for money compared with other European cities, but rent prices are sky high thanks to its label as one of the world's fashion capitals.

3. Zurich, Switzerland

There is no surprise this upmarket banking city and the financial capital of Switzerland made it to the top spot. It is also home to Bahnhofstrasse, a street with a reputation for being one of the most expensive shopping strips in the world. Some of the most famous fashion houses have outlets here including Armani, Gucci and Prada.

4. Singapore

This city is a regular feature on some of the world’s top 10 lists, from most expensive to safest cities. Much like Hong Kong, housing rents and prices are on the high side in this Southeast Asian destination. Most people choose to live as close as possible to where they work and this is usually within a kilometre or two of the Central Business District.

5. Osaka, Japan

Pitted as western Japan’s hub of culture and commerce, Osaka is a pricey city. It is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants as well as Universal Studios Japan. However, Osaka hotels are, with few exceptions, very affordable and many of the city’s top attractions are either cheap to enter or completely free.

6. Tel Aviv, Israel

The cost of living has been rising in Israel for a few years. In 2018, Israelis marched the streets of the city to protest against the rising price of food, telephone bills, water and electricity. For a basic lunch at a restaurant in the downtown area, you can expect to pay around $20 (Dh73). Fast-food meals such as McDonald's will cost around $15 (Dh55).

7. Geneva, Switzerland

Cities in Switzerland have historically had high prices, especially Zurich and Geneva. According to Swiss banking giant UBS, Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world for food. A family of three can expect to pay an average $705 (Dh2,589) a month for food in the French-speaking city compared to $629 (Dh2,310) in Zurich.

8. New York, US

The Big Apple has a reputation for high cost of living due to its booming economy and large job market across a variety of industries. Rents in the city are reaching historic rates too. According to Douglas Elliman real estate, the average monthly cost for a Manhattan rental climbed to $4,500 (Dh16,500) in April 2020, up four per cent from the previous year.

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

High taxes is one of the main reasons the cost of living is so high in Denmark’s capital. While health care and university tuition fees are free, sales tax is 25 per cent and income tax starts at 36 per cent. Reuters

10. Los Angeles, US

LA is the second US city to appear on the top 10 list. Much like New York, rent prices in this fame-hungry city are one of the highest in the country. Its warm climate, desirable beaches and rolling mountains make it one of the most in-demand places to live for young professionals and families.

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