Top 10 Most and Least Expensive Cities in the World 2024

Planning a move abroad? This guide explores the most and least expensive cities for expats in 2024, based on Mercer's Cost of Living City Ranking. From bustling Hong Kong to charming Havana, find your dream destination that fits your budget.
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Navigating the complexities of the cost of living can be a daunting task, especially for those relocating or managing global mobility operations. Mercer’s 2024 Cost of Living Survey offers valuable insights into the most and least expensive cities worldwide.

In this article, we explore the top 10 priciest and most affordable cities, shedding light on the factors driving these costs.

The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

1. Hong Kong

Known for its sky-high property prices and expensive consumer goods, Hong Kong tops the list. High costs in transportation and dining also contribute significantly to the city’s steep living expenses.

2. Singapore

The island nation ranks second due to its costly housing market and premium prices for goods and services. Limited space and high demand drive up real estate prices, making Singapore a pricy destination.

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3. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich’s reputation as a leading financial centre contributes to its high living costs. Luxury housing, premium healthcare, and pricey goods and services define this affluent Swiss city. The city’s robust financial sector contributes to its high ranking.

4. Geneva, Switzerland

As a centre for international diplomacy, Geneva boasts a high standard of living with costly housing, luxurious amenities, and expensive dining options, reflecting its cosmopolitan status.

5. Basel, Switzerland

Basel, with its thriving pharmaceutical industry, faces high costs due to its strong economy, expensive housing, and a high price index for consumer goods and services.

6. Bern, Switzerland

The Swiss capital combines political importance with high living costs. Expensive housing, high taxes, and premium services contribute to Bern’s position among the costliest cities.

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7. New York City, USA

NYC’s vibrant lifestyle comes with steep costs. Sky-high real estate prices, expensive dining, and entertainment make it the priciest city in North America.

8. London, UK

London’s economic and cultural significance drives its high cost of living. London’s real estate market is one of the most expensive in the world. Coupled with high costs in dining and transportation, it maintains a top spot in the rankings.

9. Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, a luxury destination in the Caribbean, has high living costs driven by upscale real estate, imported goods, and premium services catering to tourists and expatriates.

10. Los Angeles, USA

LA’s appeal as a cultural and entertainment capital comes at a price. High housing costs, expensive lifestyle options, and significant transportation expenses contribute to its place among the top ten.

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Also Read: Planning to Move to Canada? Here’s the Cost of Living You Need to Know

The 10 Least Expensive Cities in the World

1. Havana, Cuba

Cuba’s capital, Havana, offers low living costs due to subsidized housing and government-controlled pricing, making it one of the most affordable cities globally.

2. Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek’s affordability stems from low real estate prices and inexpensive basic goods and services, providing a budget-friendly environment in Southern Africa.

3. Durban, South Africa

Known for its beautiful beaches, Durban maintains low living costs thanks to affordable housing and reasonable prices for goods and services, attracting budget-conscious residents.

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4. Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, remains one of the cheapest cities due to low costs for housing, utilities, and local goods, despite being a cultural and economic centre.

5. Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre offers a low-cost living environment with affordable housing, basic goods, and services, reflecting its position as an economic hub in Malawi with minimal living expenses.

6. Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan’s economic powerhouse, is marked by its low cost of living, with affordable housing and essential goods contributing to its rank among the least expensive cities.

7. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, is one of the most affordable cities globally, with low costs for housing, food, and transportation, making it budget-friendly for residents.

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8. Islamabad, Pakistan

Islamabad offers low living costs due to affordable housing and everyday essentials, benefiting from currency devaluations and lower local costs compared to global standards.

9. Lagos, Nigeria

Despite being a bustling economic centre, Lagos’s living costs are kept low by currency depreciation and affordable housing, making it one of the most economical cities in Nigeria.

10. Abuja, Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, provides a low-cost living environment influenced by inexpensive housing and local goods, driven by economic factors including currency fluctuations.

Also Read: Affordable Living in Europe: Top 5 Cheapest Countries

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Regional Highlights

RegionDescription
EuropeDominates the top 10 most expensive cities, with Switzerland leading the pack. London re-enters the top 10 in 2024.
AsiaHong Kong and Singapore remain the most expensive in Asia, while Islamabad and other South Asian cities offer affordability.
North AmericaNew York City holds its position as the priciest, followed by cities like Los Angeles and Honolulu.
South AmericaMontevideo takes the top spot, while Buenos Aires and Santiago have become more affordable.
AfricaBangui and Djibouti are among the most expensive African cities, while Lagos and Abuja offer the lowest costs.
PacificSydney is the most expensive in the region, while Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand remain the most affordable.

Conclusion

Mercer’s 2024 Cost of Living Survey provides a crucial tool for understanding global living expenses. Whether you’re a global assignee or managing international relocations, these insights help navigate the financial landscapes of cities worldwide.

From Hong Kong’s sky-high costs to Islamabad’s affordability, this list reflects the diverse economic realities across the globe.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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