3 of the 5 most expensive cities in the world are in Switzerland

3 of the 5 most expensive cities in the world are in Switzerland

A new study by Mercer has revealed that three of the world's five most expensive cities to live in are in Switzerland. Amid the continued consequences of the COVID pandemic and war in Ukraine, the latest Cost of Living City Ranking for 2023 found that while Swiss cities have become slightly cheaper when compared to some areas overseas, they remain the most expensive places to live in Europe.

Cost of Living City Ranking 2023 by Mercer

To create the ranking, the consulting and investment firm Mercer analysed 227 cities around the world to see which have the highest cost of living. The report is designed to help international companies decide what salary they should pay their workers based on where they live.

To place each city on the ranking, the cost of more than 200 items - such as rent, public transport, food, clothing, medicine, entertainment and other essentials - was calculated for each location. Prices were sourced from a representative survey in each city conducted in March 2023, with exchange rates set at what they were at the time of the poll.

For 2023, Mercer noted that the world is still recovering from the pressures and events of last year, namely the impact of the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Amid “aggressive national monetary policies and the tightening of global financial conditions," they predicted that the rising cost of living will continue to remain an issue in the years to come.

Hong Kong the most expensive city and prices in Singapore soar

Like last year, Hong Kong was named as the most expensive city to live in for 2023. At the same time, Singapore shot up six places this year, moving from eighth to second place. In contrast, Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan and Havana, Cuba were the three cheapest cities for 2023 - the Cuban capital dropped 83 places compared to last year.

In terms of continents, Hong Kong took the top spot for Asia, Tel Aviv in Israel (eighth globally) was the priciest in the Middle East, the Bahamanian capital Nassau (10th) placed top for Central and South America, the Big Apple, New York City (sixth) was first for North America, and the Central African Republic capital Bangui (26th) took home the gold for Africa.

Zurich the most expensive city in Europe in 2023

For 2023, Zurich was ranked as the third most expensive city in the world to live in, and the most expensive in Europe. Geneva and Basel rounded out the global top five, while the de-facto capital of Switzerland, Bern, placed seventh. Interestingly, every Swiss city has seen their position in the ranking fall compared to last year, largely thanks to increases in the cost of living in Singapore and New York.

However, it’s important to note that while the cost of living is high, the ranking does not consider the impact of highly-paid jobs in Switzerland. In addition, while it may be pricey, the latest study from the Economist Intelligence Unit says that only five other cities in the world will give you as good a quality of life as Zurich does.

10 most expensive cities in the world for 2023

In all, here are the most expensive cities in the world to live in for 2023:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland
  6. New York City, United States
  7. Bern, Switzerland
  8. Tel Aviv, Israel
  9. Copenhagen, Denmark
  10. Nassau, Bahamas

To see how the 217 other cities faired on the ranking, check out the Mercer website.

Thumb image credit: Judith Linine /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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