Pandemic 'reshuffles rankings' of world's most expensive cities: EIU list

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Pandemic 'reshuffles rankings' of world's most expensive cities: EIU list

Paris has taken the top spot in a worldwide survey of cost of living by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with the pandemic having upended many of the city rankings.

The EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living index 2020 sees Hong Kong remaining at number 2, with Zurich a new entry at third in the table. Singapore has slipped to fourth place. Yet many of the changes reveal an increasingly expensive Europe, both for residents and expats.

At the same time, cities in much of the Americas and Africa have seen their cost of living fall. A weaker dollar has reduced some costs in the US, for example.

The covid-19 pandemic has caused the weakening of the US dollar while western European and north Asian currencies have strengthened against it, which in turn has shifted prices for goods and services."

Upasana Dutt, head of Worldwide Cost of Living at the EIU, said: "Asian cities have traditionally dominated the rankings in the past years but the pandemic has reshuffled the rankings of this edition."

She added: "In terms of consumer goods, there has been a sharp increase in the prices of computers, while clothing prices have seen a decline."

"The covid-19 pandemic has caused the weakening of the US dollar while western European and north Asian currencies have strengthened against it, which in turn has shifted prices for goods and services."

The top 10 most expensive cities in the EIU's listing are:

  1. Paris
  2. Zurich
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Singapore
  5. Tel Aviv
  6. Osaka
  7. Geneva
  8. New York
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Los Angeles

The survey looked at the prices of 138 goods and products across 130 countries worldwide.Dutt said many of the changes have been prompted by changing consumer habits during the course of the year, with remote working causing a surge in demand for laptops and home office technology.

The biggest climber, though, is Tehran. US sanctions have caused the Iranian captial to rise 27 places in the EIU listing.

Author spotlight

Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.