The Most Expensive Capital Cities In The World To Live In

For those that are curious as to where the most expensive capital cities from across the globe are located, all has recently been revealed. And in case you were wondering, Sydney and Melbourne don’t even make the top 10!

The Economist Intelligence Unit released the report in the early months of 2017, and with it comes a comprehensive overview of the cost of living in various capital cities around the world. The cost of living in each city is ranked in comparison with New York City, where New York receives an index score of 100, and one extra point equates to a 1% increase in living costs. This is called the WCOL (World Cost of Living) index.

The findings are enlightening to say the least, and may even make you feel like you really have grown up in ‘The Lucky Country’! The report was compiled by comparing factors such as wages and the prices of more than 150 items — including bread, wine, cigarettes and unleaded petrol.

As noted in the report, Singapore is still top dog as the most expensive city in the world. In fact, the entire Asia region has performed strongly and is now home to 5 out of the top 6 cities in the survey. The United States of America on the other hand has nearly dropped out of the race entirely, with New York the sole North American city in the top ten. Read on to find out where you capital city fits in.

Note: All average prices are sourced from and were last updated in June, 2017. All prices are in AUD. Ranking have been compiled using findings from Economist Intelligence Unit: Worldwide Cost of Living 2017.

15. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the second most populous city within Australia, with official population growth rates beginning to outstrip Sydney. Its popularity with internationals plus Australia’s proximity to Asia and high standard of living are responsible for it rapid ascension. It jumped up six places from last years report.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.55
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $8.00
  • Av. Cappuccino: $3.93

14. Sydney, Australia

Just ahead of Melbourne is Sydney, which has also moved ahead six places from last years report. A dramatic increase in property prices is to blame, as is increasing unaffordability issues. Melbourne and Sydney’s place on the list however is still lower than five years ago when they were both within the top 10 most expensive cities to live in.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.84
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $7.00
  • Av. Cappuccino: $3.83

13. Tel Aviv, Israel (tied 11th)

Tel Aviv has seen a huge boom in international tourism over the last few years and now serves as the financial and technological hub of Israel. Its location on the Mediterranean also makes it attractive to those looking to relocate to the coastline but still remain close to the Middle East. Tel Aviv has jumped into 13 place from 14th last year, however it’s cost of living is on par with Oslo and Los Angeles.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.57
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $10.45
  • Av. Cappuccino: $4.27

12. Oslo, Norway (tied 11th)

Oslo is the capital and most populous city in Norway. It is known for its green spaces, museums and now as one of the most expensive places to live in Europe and Scandinavia. It is currently tied 11th with Tel Aviv after rising from 14th place last year.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.99
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $12.42
  • Av. Cappuccino: $6.13

11. Los Angeles, USA (tied 11th)

Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolitan that’s seen as the epicentre of American culture on the west coast. In the latest WCOL (World Cost of Living) index is scored a 99, which is only marginally cheaper than New York. It is becoming cheaper to live there though after coming down from eighth place last year.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.23
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $5.00
  • Av. Cappuccino: $3.97

10. Copenhagen, Denmark (tied 9th)

Sitting pretty on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager is the beautiful city of Copenhagen. While still incredibly pricey to reside in, the Danish capital has fallen from eighth place last year to its current position of ninth. The report states that Copenhagen “features in the top ten, largely owing to relatively high transport and personal care costs”.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.78
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $8.89
  • Av. Cappuccino: $6.91

9. New York City, USA (tied 9th)

New York, New York, oh how the mighty have fallen! Only just scraping in the top 10 and down from seventh place last year, New York is becoming more affordable by the day. This is due in part to the weakening of the US dollar.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.40
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $6.00
  • Av. Cappuccino: $4.17

8. Paris, France (tied 7th)

Paris is a European centre for art, culture, gastronomy and fashion. Its charming cityscape is enriched by the River Seine, which cuts its way through the many roads and streets that crisscross this metropolitan. Paris is regularly featured within the top 10 (15 years and counting), however the report has noted the “the relative cost of living in the French capital has evened out. Currently, living in Paris is 7% more expensive than living in New York, but just five years ago it was 50% pricier”. Time to book flights? Maybe not just yet”

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.16
  • Av. Bee 0.5l: $8.81
  • Av. Cappuccino: $5.01

7. Geneva, Switzerland (tied 7th)

Arm in arm with Paris in seventh place is Geneva, lying at the southern tip of the vast Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). This Swiss city is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains. It revels in all the convenience of modern life and is framed by gorgeous natural scenery. Geneva scores at 107 on the index and while expensive, it remains more affordable than Zurich.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.97
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $9.45
  • Av. Cappuccino: $5.80

6. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and boasts towering skyscrapers, a modern subway system and numerous Buddhist temples. It is also one of the three most expensive places in the world to buy household supplies and food essentials. In Seoul doing your groceries is almost 50% more expensive than in New York. This more than warrants it current placing and validates its jump four places up the rankings.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.49
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $4.05
  • Av. Cappuccino: $5.21

5. Osaka, Japan

Osaka is a large seaport city and business centre situated on the Japanese island of Honshu. It’s known for its contemporary buildings, vibrant nightlife and nourishing street food. This year marks Osaka’s return to the top 10. The cost of living is currently 9% higher than in New York, up from 3% less last year.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $1.84
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $4.72
  • Av. Cappuccino: $3.89

4. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is one of the busiest capital cities in the world. Its blend of traditional and the historic make it an appealing place for people of all ages to reside. Up from 11th place last year due to the strength of the Japanese Yen, Tokyo was the world’s most expensive city until 2012

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.59
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $4.72
  • Av. Cappuccino: $4.53

3. Zurich, Switzerland

The city of Zurich is a worldwide hub for banking and finance. It is located at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. With a recent WCOL score of 113, Zurich is now the only non-Asia capital city within the top five. This also makes it the most expensive European city. It is noted in the report however that its cost of living has fallen over the past few years.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $3.96
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $9.45
  • Av. Cappuccino: $6.68

2. Hong Kong Metro, Hong Kong

With nearly as many people as the entire country of Austria crammed into one small metropolitan area, it’s easy to see how competition within this capital city can drive prices skywards. Hong Kong is now positioned in second place on the WCOL rankings with a score of 114 (the same as 2016). House prices and local living costs are reported as being remarkably high.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.59
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $6.75
  • Av. Cappuccino: $5.90

1. Singapore Metro, Singapore

For the fourth year in a row, the Economist Intelligence Unit has declared Singapore the world’s priciest city. This island city-state is now firmly placed at the top of the rankings. While it is costly to live there, the report does outlay that Singapore offers “relative value” compared to surrounding Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul and Osaka due to affordable domestic goods and personal care products.

  • Av. Loaf of bread: $2.17
  • Av. Beer 0.5l: $8.55
  • Av. Cappuccino: $5.04



Keep me updated with finance news and tips

Sign up for our 7 part Property Investment email course. Learn everything to start investing in property!

    By sending a request you agree to our Privacy Policy

    Are you ready to buy? Talk to an Aussie Mortgage Broker!

    Would you be interested to talk to an Aussie Mortage Broker about finding the right home loan?*

    * Aussie is a trade mark of AHL Investments PTY Ltd. Aussie is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. © 2018 AHL Investments Pty Ltd ABN 27 105 265 861 Australian Credit Licence 246786. By submitting this form, you agree to the Aussie Privacy Policy.

    Thank you for interest!

    We will send you 7 emails containing all you need to know to get started.

    Articles you might also like