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The Most Expensive Cities in the World

The Most Expensive Cities in the World


This summer, Mercer, a human resources company, came out with its annual list of the most expensive cities in the world. Their list has 50 cities total, though we decided to highlight the top 13 (Why not? We're not superstitious.) We've also included a few interesting tidbits about each locale.Photo Credit: heiwa4126

1. Tokyo


Not only is Tokyo the most expensive city on the planet for expats, but they’ve also got a different approach to plastic. This comes from the expat blog TokyoTales:“In the U.S., I never worry about how much cash I have in my wallet. I know that I can always use my debit card - even at McDonald's - and I don't need to count bills. In Japan, it's different. My local grocery store just started accepting credit cards this past June. June 2009, that's right. Up until June, if you wanted groceries at Marusho, you took cash, only cash, thank you very much.”Photo Credit: wili_hybrid

2. Osaka


Though this Japanese city is ranked the second most expensive in the world, there’s still plenty of poverty there. You can read about it on the expat blog, Jan, the Man in Japan:

“In Osaka there is a part of town which the locals call ‘overseas.’ It is full of homeless people. In fact, it is very full - the space available for them is running out. Recently, the number of homeless people has been increasing, and the number of tents made of the blue tarps (remember the cherry-blossom viewing?) in parks has increased visibly.”

Photo Credit: oimax

3. Moscow


Despite Moscow's incredibly high cost of living, there is a strong tradition of bartering there. According to the National Review, the practice goes way back. "Russia’s barter tradition comes not only from medieval history but also from the Soviet Union’s latter days and the early 1990s, when workers wouldn’t get salaries for months or years at a time and had to become creative to feed themselves and their loved ones."

Photo Credit: Jurvetson

4. Geneva


Geneva may be expensive, but it's also considered to be one of Europe's most international cities. More than 40% of the local population comes from somewhere else. Also, dog poop is evidently a problem there. Photo Credit: Osharf

Hong Kong


Hong Kong has a reputation for being a pricey place to live, which is why it's no surprise it's on this list. But About.com has a nice little price comparison, if you're wondering how much stuff actually costs:"Beer in bar - $7Dinner for two $70-$80Takeaway coffee $4Big Mac $1.50"

Photo Credit: Trodel

6. Zurich


"You can also be certain that Switzerland is frackin expensive," writes one American expat living in this Swiss city.  "No higher pay, lower tax economics lesson will save you from the sticker shock (which will result in you curling up in a corner while violently shaking.)"

Her blog, however, also features some helpful tips on how to save some dough in this beautiful European city.

Photo Credit: Jeckman

7. Copenhagen


Denmark’s capital city is thought to have the best quality of life among all the cities in the world, but that comes at a cost.The U.S. embassy in Denmark notes, "Due to a strong trade union movement, wages in Denmark are generally higher than in the United States. Negotiated minimum wage is approximately $12/hour. Income tax in Denmark, however, is high by international standards, and ranges from 45% to a high 64%... The cost of living in Denmark is considerably higher than in the United States. Copenhagen is among the five most expensive cities in the world."

Photo Credit: jimg944

8. New York

New York ain't cheap. We know that because we live here. That said, it's nice to read that there are at least a few places that are even more expensive in the Big Apple.

That said, according to some reports, the middle class in New York have it particularly rough.

"Once you adjust New Yorkers' seemingly high incomes for the cost of living, the middle class fares poorly... You can live in Houston for $50,000 a year at the same standard as you would in Manhattan with a $123,000 income or in Queens with $86,000. All of which has led to a middle-class outmigration from the city in recent years, even as the local economy enjoyed financial-sector profits unlikely to ever be seen again."

Photo Credit: B1Gj4k3

9. Beijing


Beijing can be insanely expensive for some things, and very affordable for others. According to one expat blog, "Here's a good rule of thumb when assessing Beijing cost of living. If the product or service is produced in China with Chinese components, it's relatively cheap. If it's imported, it's expensive. So an international school in Beijing with expatriate teachers costs a lot while a maid's salary is affordable for expats."

Photo Credit: Yoshimai

10. Singapore


This Asian oasis clearly isn't cheap (wouldn't be on this list if it was) but according to one expat account we read, there's definitely an ebb and flow to the cost of living, particularly for foreigners living there. "As with most things, the cost of living in Singapore goes in cycles. For example, at the time of writing, the cost of housing and apartment rental is at a low point, having become a victim of a global economic downturn. However, we are already seeing signs of recovery and fears of an expatriate mass exodus have abated. Housing is likely to rise in cost again as demand returns."

Photo Credit: henryleonghw

11. Milan


This little Q&A session on Yahoo Answers sums up the cost of living in this Italian city quite nicely.

“Fashionista: For a 19 years old girl planing (sic) to study in Milan.  I'd also like to know price range of apartments in good areas of the city.

Best Answer (chosen by voters): Astronomical. But at least you'll feel stylish... and broke.”

Photo Credit: Bjorn Giesenbauer

12. Shanghai


This Chinese city may be a pricey place to live overall, but at least the food is relatively cheap. One expat reports, "One of the best things about living in Shanghai is that dining out is relatively cheap. For less than $50, you can have a sumptous (sic) meal with your family of 4 in a decent restaurant."

Photo Credit: uniquebuildings

13. Paris


Expats are drawn to Paris for all the obvious reasons, but it's not all crepes and berets, my friends. Check out this post from an expat as she recounts what it was like to receive her first French tax bill."What I held in my possession was my avis d'impot sur les revenues or more simply put my tax bill. Now, while I understand the importance of paying taxes and I'm more than willing to pay my fair share of them in order to reap the social benefits, when it comes down to it I'm less than thrilled to have to write a four figure check made out to Sarkozy (I jest the check was actually made out to the treasurer or something)."

Photo Credit: Walter Watzpatzkowski

Read More:   cost of living, travel
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