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What does it take to become one of the world’s most expensive cities?

The Independent, The Telegraph, and Business Insider all argue that the most expensive city in the world is either: Singapore, Hong Kong or Zurich. Despite their inability to decide on a clear winner, there is agreement that they are all within the top 5 most costly localities.

However, when looking at specific factors, who comes on top?

The Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) Prices and Earnings Report of 2018, Hoppa’s 2018 annual report, and research from ECA International have assessed several categories – namely food, iPhone ownership, prices for holidays, overall cost of living and subsequently presented intriguing comparisons between living costs in different countries to give an intriguing overview of the world most expensive cities.

 

Most expensive city for food: Geneva

 

Whilst high food costs should sting, residents of Geneva are enjoying the highest income levels among the 77 cities surveyed by the UBS. With regards to highest income levels, Zurich came second, Los Angeles fourth, New York City seventh, and London twenty-fourth.

The average worker in Hong Kong will need only 11.8 minutes to afford a Big Mac, which is the shortest time needed to munch on McDonald’s finest…

Ultimately, Geneva is a fulcrum for private bankers, commodities traders and international organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank and Red Cross. As a “mecca of cooperation and diplomacy”, the city arrives in fourth place for purchasing power, behind Los Angeles, Zurich and Miami.

Interestingly, UBS found that the average worker in Hong Kong will need only 11.8 minutes to afford a Big Mac, which is the shortest time needed to munch on McDonald’s finest. The average Londoner, however, needs to hold tight for another 5.2 minutes in their offices to chow down on the infamous patties. London is placed in the eighteenth place.

 

Least time needed to work to afford an iPhone: Zurich

 

The average worker in Zurich will need to work only 38.2 hours to afford an iPhone, which is the least amount of time needed compared to any other city. Geneva comes in second, with employees having to complete 47.5 hours of work. Putting this into perspective, the average laborer in New Delhi is required to work 804.2 hours to afford the smartphone.

 

Most expensive city for a holiday: Zurich

 

A 2018 annual report released by Hoppa, an airport transport website, ranked Zurich as the most expensive city to visit. The average pair of tourists have to pay £165 per night, £80 per meal, and £5 per pint. New York City came second, costing £157 per night, £65 per meal, and £5 per pint.

The places that followed were all Scandinavian cities: Copenhagen (£150 per night), Oslo (£147 per night) and Stockholm (£131 per night). London was ranked twelfth, costing £121 per night, £55 per meal, and £4 per pint .

Krakow, Poland [is] the cheapest city for Britons to visit … it costs £78 for two nights in three-star accommodation, £43 for a three-course meal, and £2 for a bottle of beer…

However, Warwick students living on a budget need not worry! The Independent has revealed Krakow, Poland to be the cheapest city for Britons to visit. For a couple or two friends, it costs £78 for two nights in three-star accommodation, £43 for a three-course meal, and £2 for a bottle of beer. Honourable mentions include: Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Athens, Munich, and Nice.

 

Highest overall living costs: Venezuela

 

Calculating the overall cost of living is more complicated – it involves looking at the cost of a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by expats in various countries. This basket includes groceries, household and recreational goods, clothing, meals out, alcohol and tobacco, leisure, and more.

ECA International, a business management consultancy, found that Caracas, Venezuela was the most expensive city to live in. Steven Kilfedder, the consultancy’s production manager, said: “The economic situation in Venezuela has become increasingly volatile with inflation reaching an astounding 7,000 per cent in the year to March 2018 and 1,800 percent over the last six months alone.”

“The cost of goods has increased exponentially as the economic and political situation has deteriorated and despite the plummeting value of the Bolivar, Caracas sits at the top of our cost of living rankings,” he explained.

The economic predicament Venezuela faces tells us that the “most expensive city” does not necessarily infer it is the “best” city to live in…

Alongside this, the first-quarter of 2018 showed a negative 13.2 per cent fall in Venezuela’s growth rates a result of various factors, namely Saudi Arabia lowering its oil prices below that of Venezuela –  of which 95 per cent of the country’s over-reliance on exports earnings depend on. Consequently, the Venezuelan government revoked it’s social and physical infrastructure policies to reduce inequality and poverty, resulting in hundreds of thousands fleeing from the crisis.

As a result, the economic predicament Venezuela faces tells us that the “most expensive city” does not necessarily infer it is the “best” city to live in. Rather, it is important for us to consider the political and social climate of these cities to holistically identify the true value of a cities wealth.

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