The Most Expensive Cities to Live in During COVID-19

covid city cost of living comparison

What city do you want to be stuck in during the COVID-19 pandemic? It used to be a dream to move to a big city for that glamorous life, but as luck would have it, some cities are better than others.

COVID-19 has reordered the world’s most expensive cities list. Due to the changes in economies on a world scale, there are certain cities becoming cheaper to live in, while some much more expensive. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Western European cities are becoming more expensive, but the cost of living has dropped in the Americas, Africa and Eastern Europe. The euro rose in value over the dollar, and the dollar dipped in value, making Africa, Americas, and Eastern Europe less expensive while western Europe saw prices rise.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rated 133 cities since the start of the year, compared the prices of 138 items in a basket, and ranked them according to cost of living. The report shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.

Paris, Hong Kong, and Zurich are tied at first place in the list of most expensive cities to live in, with the cost of living the highest in those cities. Previously, Hong Kong held that title on its own, but due to the pandemic, Paris and Zurich went up in cost of living.

Singapore went down to fourth and Osaka went down to fifth, which were both joint at #1 in 2019. Tel Aviv and Osaka are tied at fifth, and Geneva and New York are tied at seventh. New York along with Los Angeles fell, with LA at ninth, sharing it with Copenhagen.

This year’s biggest surprise was Tehran, which moved up 27 spots, from 106 th to 79 th because of the US sanctions and the reduced supply of goods. Perth, Guangzhou, Belgrade, and Abidjan all became more expensive too, moving up 12th spots.

The report found that the events of 2020 significantly impacted the changes in rankings, with currency fluctuations and different spending habits made cities go way up or way down. The survey looked at the cost of groceries, alcohol, household supplies, toiletries, clothes, utilities, entertainment, transport, rent and others.

There are various reasons as to why these economic impacts during COVID-19 has seen shocking changes in prices worldwide. First, government actions, supply chain problems, and changes in income and lifestyle during the pandemic impacted prices along the globe. Second, currency fluctuations are the reason why cities in the Americas, western Europe and Africa are becoming less expensive while western Europe is becoming more expensive.

Some economic trends are easier to predict: with many people laid off and shops closed during the lockdowns, the essential supplies like food and home goods are more in demand than those of non-essential qualities. Electronics went up in price due to increased demand but little supply because many saw the shift from workplace to work-from-home. Meanwhile, a fall in demand led to a very steep decline in clothes prices.

Staples such as food largely remained the same price, though a shortage of pasta caused pasta to become more expensive in certain places. Meanwhile, personal care products, tobacco, and alcohol have all risen.

“Although much will depend on the course of the pandemic, we expect many of the above price trends to continue into 2021,” Upasana Dutt, the head of Worldwide Cost of Living at the Economic Intelligence Unit. “With the global economy unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022, spending will remain restricted and prices under downward pressure.”

“Mostly likely, people will continue to focus their spending on the staples, like home entertainment and faster internet access,” added Dutt.

The previous report for 2019 had listed Hong Kong, Osaka and Singapore tied for the #1 spot, but the 2020 report moved Singapore down and moved Zurich up.

The Economist Intelligence Unit also named Vienna as the most liveable city in the word, due to its lack of petty crime. Next comes Melbourne, and last is Adelaide. The least liveable city in the world at #1 was Damascus, Syria. The cheapest city in the world is Caracas, Venezuela.

Here is the full ranking:

City Rank Rank Movement WCOL Index
Zurich 1 4 103
Paris 1 4 103
Hong Kong 1 0 103
Singapore 4 -3 102
Tel Aviv 5 2 101
Osaka 5 -4 101
Geneva 7 3 100
New York 7 -3 100
Copenhagen 9 2 96
Los Angeles 9 -1 96

Source: Business Insider