The rich culture, picturesque views, and bustling streets might have drawn your attention to explore and live in a city. However, there is a price for all that fun.
Considering how much it would cost to experience city life comfortably is necessary. Before deciding your destination, check out the top five most and least expensive cities to live in this 2024!
What makes a city more expensive than the others
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2022 reported the most and least expensive cities to live in.
This survey highlighted the effect of the continuing pandemic restrictions in China and the war in Ukraine on the rapid price increase across the world’s biggest cities. These events affected trade and production worldwide due to supply-chain management problems.
5 most expensive cities to live in 2024
Numbeo reported the cost of living in the most expensive cities in the world. Remember that this list is subject to change the following year. It is always best to conduct comprehensive research when relocating from one city to another.
Check out the top five cities below:
#4 Los Angeles, USA
Los Angeles ranks fourth, tying with Hong Kong, as one of the most expensive cities in the world. It is a sprawling city famous for its palm trees, beaches, sunny weather, and entertainment industry.
Several factors influence the cost of living in the city, including high taxes, high consumer prices, and high real estate prices.
The rent prices in Los Angeles are high, especially in the “celebrity neighborhoods” like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. There are more affordable housing options in the city. A one-bedroom apartment in the city’s center costs US $2,000-$3,300 monthly.
A meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs US $13.50-$45.00 per person, while a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant costs US $60-$150 for two people.
Dining out in the city can be costly, especially in the Beverly Hills and Santa Monica neighborhoods. More affordable options include ethnic restaurants, food trucks, and street vendors.
A one-liter (¼ gallon) gasoline costs US $1.16-$1.59. While public transportation exists, it is not as convenient as driving your car. Moreover, Los Angeles is a congested city, which can increase commute time and expenses.
#3 Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong shares this accolade with Los Angeles as the fourth among the cities in the world with the highest living cost. It draws the attention of successful and wealthy business people and thousands of ex-pats because of the opportunities for work and leisure.
Housing is the biggest expense in Hong Kong. Since the city is primarily skyscrapers, a limited amount of land is available. Numbeo reported that a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs approximately US $1,700 to $3,100 monthly.
For groceries, one liter of milk costs US $2 – $3. Specialty items and imported goods are expensive.
Meanwhile, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs US $5-$12 per person. Eating in a mid-range restaurant with a three-course meal for two people costs US $38-$101.
Hong Kong has a comprehensive transportation system, and the costs depend on the mode of transportation.
A one-way ticket for local transport costs US $1.20-$2.50 per person, while a monthly pass for unlimited rides costs around US $50-$76. Taxis are available with the fare starting at US $3.40-$3.50 and increasing based on distance.
#2 Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv ranks third as one of the most expensive cities in the world. While the cost of living in the city is high, the quality of life is also high.
Tel Aviv boasts a vibrant cultural scene, bustling nightlife, and beautiful beaches. It is a dynamic and exciting destination for tourists and ex-pats alike.
The demand for housing in the city is high, resulting in high prices for apartments and houses. The rent prices in Tel Aviv depend on the apartment’s size, location, and condition.
According to Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center ranges from US $1,370-$2,000 per month.
The grocery prices in Tel Aviv are relatively high. For instance, eating out in an inexpensive restaurant would cost US $12-$27 per person, equivalent to. Meanwhile, a meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant with a three-course meal would range from US $68-$137.
The city has a well-developed transportation system that helps people to get around. A one-way ticket for local transport ranges from US $1.30 to $1.60. Ride-sharing services are available in the city, including Uber and Gett.
#1 New York, USA
Living in New York is like living in a city full of opportunities. As Alicia Keys said, it is a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of.” While movies and TV series depict New York life as full of pride and sass, you must shell out some cash to live here.
Life in NYC–big city, big dreams, and big rent. According to Apartment List, a two-bedroom apartment costs around US $3,295, while a studio-type room costs US $4,331.
Aside from the rental charges, there are utilities, broker fees, and security deposits to factor in when renting an apartment in the city.
Another out-of-this-world expense–courtesy of living in NYC–is the food scene. However, you can eat out in an inexpensive restaurant and pay an average of US $25 per person. Groceries in the city are more expensive than in other parts of the country.
Moving to NYC means ditching your car and learning to use the public transport system. The subway system is the most affordable transportation option in New York, which costs US $2.75 per ride.
Other ways to get around The Big Apple are through the iconic yellow taxi, bus, rail, bicycle, ferry, and by foot.
#1 Singapore, Singapore
Singapore is back at the top of the list of the most expensive city to live in the world in 2022, tying with the first-timer, New York. One factor that places the city at the top is the stronger currency and high inflation rate.
The government ensures that Singaporeans can access affordable housing through public housing or Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats. The average cost of HDB properties is US $400,000 or US $380 per square foot, which is significantly lower than a condo and landed properties.
Meanwhile, smaller flats with two or three rooms range from US $225,000 to $337,000.
Food expenses in Singapore vary depending on your lifestyle. Eating out in stalls from Hawker Centers would only cost S$6-$25 per person, while mid-range restaurant costs S$60-$150 for two persons. You can save more if you stay home and cook for yourself.
Singapore’s public transport system should be every city’s efficient and comprehensive transportation standard. The fare for a one-way local transport like a bus or MRT costs S$1.25-$2.50. Taxi service exists, with a minimum fare ranging from S$3.50 to $4.80 for the first mile.
You must pay more if you travel longer distances, peak hours, late-night surcharge, and high-end vehicles.
5 least expensive cities to live in 2024
3. Tehran, Iran
Some of the world’s least expensive cities to live in are as follows:
#5 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
What is it like living in Tashkent? The city is the heart of Uzbekistan’s economy, with agricultural and manufacturing as the main drivers. Tashkent, or “The City of Bread,” is one of the least expensive cities to live in the world.
Tashkent has small apartments and large apartments. The housing prices depend on the amenities, size, and location.
According to Numbeo, the rental price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs US $365.60-$876.04 per month. Some flats are expensive because of their proximity to busy amenities.
The city’s food options are a mix of international and local cuisines. The flavorful dishes in an inexpensive restaurant cost around US $5.50 per person, while a midrange restaurant with a three-course meal costs US $30 for two persons.
Tashkent has several transportation options, including metro, bus, taxi, and private car. A single ride in the metro or bus costs US $0.13. For taxi rides, the fare depends on the travel time and distance. The minimum fare of the taxi is US $0.50.
#4 Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis is sprawling and chaotic at the same time. You can find diverse people and cultures even if it is a relatively small city. Moving to the city will decrease your daily cost of living.
The city’s housing cost is less expensive than in most European nations. However, the final price depends on the rental duration, location, and apartment type.
Numbeo reported that the three-bedroom apartment in the city center ranges from US $288 to $802, while a single-room apartment costs US $160 to $320.
If you plan to relocate to Tunis, you must set your budget for Tunisian cuisine. Eating out and grocery shopping in the city is affordable. Go where the locals eat because it costs only US $1.44-$4.82 per person.
Food stalls and street foods allow you to eat sandwiches and soft drinks. Meanwhile, high-end restaurants cost more but are still affordable compared to other countries.
It is easy to get around the city. Tunis has an efficient and affordable Light Metro system with six distinct lines. One journey in the metro costs US $0.22, while the monthly pass costs US $14.45.
If you travel by car, get ready to drive defensively. You will encounter drivers who break the red lights and counterflows. Pedestrians and stray animals come out of nowhere.
#3 Tehran, Iran
When it comes to the cost of living, Tehran is where you can survive with a tight budget. Here is Numbeo cost of living report in the city:
Like any other city, having a roof over your head is the most expensive part of living in Tehran. The housing price in the city depends on location and type of accommodation.
A single-room apartment in the town costs US$230.34, while it costs US$179.28 outside the city.
The meal prices in Tehran vary, and food expenses depend on your lifestyle. When eating out in an inexpensive restaurant, the average cost is around US $4.00 per person Dining in high-end restaurants will dent your food budget.
Choosing to cook at home will help you save money since everyday groceries are cheap in Tehran.
The city’s public transport system includes buses, metro, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and taxis. One of the most popular transportation modes is the taxi. It can be a rotary, fixed-route, internet, or private taxi. A single ticket ranges from US $0.20-$1.00.
If you want to avoid congested traffic, you should ride the metro. Buses would work but are slower because of the speed limits.
#2 Tripoli, Libya
As the second least expensive city in the world, living in Tripoli is full of uncertainties. It is unusual for ex-pats to relocate without any confirmed employment.
Moreover, it is a conservative society, so there would be limited nightlife and luxurious dining experiences.
Over the years, the city has seen an abundance of property sites. Several apartment rentals in Tripoli only stay on the listings for a short time due to their popularity. A one-bedroom apartment rental costs around US $230, while a three-bedroom rental costs US $500.
Eating in a non-expensive restaurant in the city costs around US $6.29 per person. If you want to dine in a mid-range restaurant with a three-meal course, it will cost around US $35 for two people.
Taxis in Tripoli have no minimum fare and do not use meters. You need to negotiate with the driver before riding the vehicle. Another mode of transportation is the bus. A single-ticket ride costs around US $0.21.
#1 Damascus, Syria
Unsurprisingly, Damascus is the least expensive city to live in out of all the countries. It is the capital of war-ravaged Syria, sinking further into turmoil and suffering from a deteriorating economy. The cost of living in the city is inexpensive, but the living condition is dire.
A one-bedroom apartment in the center of Damascus ranges from US $159-$500, while a three-bedroom apartment costs approximately US $398-$700.
If you plan to eat in a non-expensive restaurant in Damascus, you should only prepare US $2.00-$7.00. A three-course meal for two persons in a mid-range restaurant costs US $15.00-$40.00. On the other hand, the grocery cost in the city is affordable.
Note that the prices of groceries and foods may vary due to inflation and ongoing war.
The easiest way for people to get around the city is by foot. After walking, there are buses, taxis, and cars-for-hire available. Due to traffic and limited parking space, renting a car in Damascus is not a good idea.
Meanwhile, the bus and the taxi are the standard modes of transportation, costing US $0.10 for a one-way ticket and US $1.22 at minimum, respectively.
It is no surprise when people think that big cities are always more expensive than other cities. Do you think this long-standing reputation is always true?
Several critical factors make a city more expensive to live in than others. The resource demand increases when something in the city attracts locals and foreigners. Basic economy rule: when the demand is high, the price is high.
The cost of living in a specific city can vary depending on individual preferences, lifestyle, and income. Moreover, it can change due to inflation, economic changes, and shifts in the housing market. After all, everyone is trying to survive–wherever city they live in.