The top 10 most expensive cities in the world to live in (above).
The survey compares the cost of living among 131 cities worldwide using New York as a base city.
Asian, Australian cities continue to move up cost of living scale
One of the features of the cost-of-living ranking over the last few years has been the rise of many Asian cities offsetting traditionally more costly European locations. In particular, Australian cities have been rising very quickly up the rankings as economic growth has supported inflation and currency swings to make them more costly.
This survey is no exception. Ten years ago there were no Australian cities among the 50 most expensive cities. Two years ago Australian cities began to be ranked among the ten most expensive. The current survey sees Australian cities reach the highest-ranked position yet, with Sydney rated the third most expensive city surveyed and Melbourne ranked in fifth place.
Australian cities are joined by cities in New Zealand and the rising Asian hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong in a top 20 where Asian cities are dominant. Asian cities make up 11 of the world’s 20 most expensive compared with eight from Europe. A decade ago this was six Asian vs ten European cities, with four cities from the USA. The
current ranking still fails to include any cities from North America among the 20 most expensive, despite widespread decline in the cost of living relative to US cities.
Cheapest cities reflect low costs in South Asia
The cheapest cities in the ranking have a familiar feel to them, both in terms of geography and
consistency. While Asia is home to over half of the world’s 20 most expensive cities, the region is also
home to six of the ten cheapest cities. Within Asia it is also possible to drill down to the geographic area
offering the lowest prices. Five of the bottom ten (and six of the bottom eleven) cities hail from the Indian
subcontinent (defined as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka). Mumbai and Karachi are the
joint cheapest locations in the survey, with indices of just 44 when compared with New York.
Although India is something of a tiger economy tipped for future growth, much of this is driven by
its large population and the untapped potential within the economy. Income inequality means that
household spending levels are low on a per capita basis, which has kept prices down, especially by Western
standards. Outside India bargain hunters may be put off by the security risk in many of the countries in
which the world’s cheapest cities are found. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Algeria and Iran all
feature in the bottom ten, but have had well documented security issues or domestic unrest. Bucharest
(Romania), Panama City (Panama) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) could offer a cheap cost of living in a more
The ten least expensive
Saudi Arabia Jeddah
Panama Panama City
Sri Lanka Colombo
India New Delhi
The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is likely to win the general election that must be held by April 2013. However, it will probably fail to attain the two-thirds parliamentary majority that would enable it to make constitutional changes unchallenged. The central bank is expected to maintain an accommodative monetary stance in 2013, before tightening policy from 2014 onwards. The economy will remain on a fairly rapid growth trajectory in 2013-17, expanding by 5.2% a year in real terms.