Two Swiss cities named among the three most expensive in the world

Two Swiss cities named among the three most expensive in the world

The latest Cost of Living Survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has seen Zurich shoot up the list to rank as the joint-first most expensive city in the world. Geneva also found itself among the higher echelons, ranking joint-third.

Cost of Living Survey by the EIU

To create the survey, the EIU compares the cost of living in 173 cities around the world. Each city is analysed by measuring 400 prices for more than 200 different products and services, including food, drinks, clothes, household items, personal care, the cost of renting a house or apartment, public transport, international schools, utility costs and more. 

The cost of each product is converted into US dollars, with all products combined together to calculate a total cost of living. This score is then used to compare how much cheaper or more expensive a place is compared to New York - which represents the benchmark score of 100.

World's cities continue to face cost of living crisis

The EIU noted that most cities around the world are continuing to face a cost of living crisis, with global prices rising by an average of 7,4 percent year on year. For Europe, they noted that while inflationary shocks caused by COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are now in the rearview mirror, and consumer spending is “surprisingly resilient” despite the high prices, inflation remains a major issue on the continent.

They found that western Europe remains the most expensive place for recreation, transport, goods and personal care, the United States has the most expensive utilities and domestic help, Asian and Middle Eastern cities are top for groceries and alcohol prices, and Australia is first for tobacco. Eastern Europe has seen the most rapid inflation this year, with nine of the 13 cities analysed rising 17 places in the ranking on average.

Zurich is the most expensive city in the world

Three years after it last topped the ranking, Zurich skyrocketed up the EIU list once again, going from sixth in 2022 to joint-first in 2023 alongside Singapore. The Swiss metropolis scored 104 points, meaning it is only one of three cities that are as expensive as or more expensive than New York - which came in joint-third alongside Geneva.

On the opposite side of the ranking, the capital of Syria, Damascus, was rated as the cheapest city in the world for 2023. It was followed by Tehran (Iran), Tripoli (Libya) and Karachi (Pakistan).

Swiss cities beset by high prices for housing and goods

Zurich’s prominence on the ranking is perhaps little surprise to those who call the city home, as although the cost of living is often well supplemented by salaries, more and more people report being priced out of the city. Indeed, housing is a particular sticking point, with a recent study by Swiss bank and investment firm UBS finding that Zurich has the most overpriced homes in the world.

The EIU also acknowledged this, adding that both Zurich and Geneva have some of the world’s highest costs for food, household items and recreation. However, the EIU also noted that, since their report uses US dollars to rank each city, the growing strength of the Swiss franc can also be blamed for Swiss cities' prominence in 2023.

10 most expensive cities in the world

In all, here are the 10 most expensive cities in the world:

  • =1. Zurich, Switzerland (104)
  • =1. Singapore (104)
  • =3. Geneva, Switzerland (100)
  • =3. New York, United States (100)
  • 5. Hong Kong (98)
  • 6. Los Angeles, United States (97)
  • 7. Paris, France (91)
  • =8. Copenhagen, Denmark (89)
  • =8. Tel Aviv, Israel (89)
  • 10. San Francisco, United States (86)

For more information, and to see where other cities ranked, check out the official website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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