The World's Most Expensive Cities

Since I have never had a city I can truly call home, geographic arbitrage is somewhat of a passion/hobby of mine. I like comparing notes between the many cities and countries I have visited. Anytime one of those best vs. worst metro areas lists drops, I am on it like repo men on Lenny Dykstra.

Today, it is one of those days. Usually the findings are not too shocking, but today is different. This year's list of the world's most expensive cities is a major telltale sign of not only how the global power landscape is changing, but where it is going.

I will leave too much of my own analysis out of it, but I will shed a light on the most obvious outliers on the list. In no particular order, I am surprised by three of the following inclusions:

Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse



#4) Moscow

Any Eastern European city in the top ten is a vast symbol of excess and not indicative of the region's economic climate. I often hold back on giving Russia my full on attention as I know it will ignite more debate than I have a taste for. In short, my view is the BRIC is one year of commodity deflation away from becoming the BIC. Muscovy has become a den of oil barons and gas oligarchy, it is far from a desirable location for anyone in the sub eight-figure category. The worst part of the previous sentence is that even the wealthiest are not fully insulated here. Kidnappings remain as much a reality as they were in the Yeltsin era 90's. This goes double for unprepared foreigners. Be wary.

#3 and #1

I will include both Ndjamena, Chad and Luanda, Angola as the preface of our next geographical bubble zone. As the inflation exportation policy of the West moves from America to Europe and the inevitable Chinese recoil becons... where else but Africa? Many of you have thought about working in Africa and there are certainly fortunes to be amassed. The thing in this day and age is, you really can't get ahead of any line unless you are standing in it before it is formed. Africa is still years, maybe even decades away from providing a vast array of investors with serious returns. Yet the mere specter of potential is enough to drive prices sky high in a region. Though many may be tempted to take the simple approach and attribute these costs to inflation...they are in truth: barriers to entry meant to keep competition out.

$7K for a 2BR...who's ready to throw caution to the wind and go become a legend? Is there any other city whose absence from the list surprises you?

Comments (48)

Jun 11, 2011

I'm shocked we didn't see any of the usual suspects on the list: London, New York, Paris, Stockholm, Prague.

Also, I think the lion's share of the expense of living in the African cities mentioned probably indicates the heavy cost of security and safety, as well as the various anti-competition laws in place there.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 13, 2011
Pfalzer:

I'm shocked we didn't see any of the usual suspects on the list: London, New York, Paris, Stockholm, Prague.

Also, I think the lion's share of the expense of living in the African cities mentioned probably indicates the heavy cost of security and safety, as well as the various anti-competition laws in place there.

Prague? Did you fall from a tree? It is one of the most cheapest cities in Europe... I pay 500 bucks per month and live 3 minutes from the center, I would say it is far from Manhattan or London rent... Beer costs 0,80 US cents, it is cheaper than water!

Jun 11, 2011

To be fair, Moscow is a very two sided city. There is the very expensive side for the rich people, but a huge portion of the city is in poverty and stuff is actually pretty cheap.

Also to the person who said Prague, it is pretty cheap in terms of general cost of living.

Jun 11, 2011
derivstrading:

To be fair, Moscow is a very two sided city. There is the very expensive side for the rich people, but a huge portion of the city is in poverty and stuff is actually pretty cheap.

Also to the person who said Prague, it is pretty cheap in terms of general cost of living.

The reason I mentioned Prague is that it was recently ranked number 10 or 11 in a study of the wealthiest EU regions out of around 300. It's true that food and drink there are relatively cheap, but rent is ridiculous.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 11, 2011

luanda?

Jun 11, 2011

Relatively cheap doesn't even begin to account for the prices in Prague (at least when it comes to cigarettes and booze). It's $0.50 for a tall boy and like $10 for a 26 of vodka. Best city ever!

Jun 11, 2011
ucla:

Relatively cheap doesn't even begin to account for the prices in Prague (at least when it comes to cigarettes and booze). It's $0.50 for a tall boy and like $10 for a 26 of vodka. Best city ever!

Huge mug of excellent Czech beer for $.50. I remember it well! Magnificent.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 11, 2011
Pfalzer:
ucla:

Relatively cheap doesn't even begin to account for the prices in Prague (at least when it comes to cigarettes and booze). It's $0.50 for a tall boy and like $10 for a 26 of vodka. Best city ever!

Huge mug of excellent Czech beer for $.50. I remember it well! Magnificent.

Both of you shut the fuck up! I'm getting jealous and thirsty!

Jun 11, 2011
ucla:

Relatively cheap doesn't even begin to account for the prices in Prague (at least when it comes to cigarettes and booze). It's $0.50 for a tall boy and like $10 for a 26 of vodka. Best city ever!

hottest chics ever, period

Jun 11, 2011

the numbers for hong kong just arent true. i lived there until end of january this year. this stinks of a google based search for prices. Doubting the rest of hte numbers after that.

Jun 11, 2011

The metrics used are stupid and subjective.

Jun 11, 2011

How is Monaco not on the list...?

Jun 12, 2011
design:

How is Monaco not on the list...?

I think you might mean Monte Carlo, the city in the principality of Monaco? I was just there a few weeks ago during the F1 Grand Prix. Place is flat out amazing and also amazingly expensive.

Jun 12, 2011
skylinegtr94:
design:

How is Monaco not on the list...?

I think you might mean Monte Carlo, the city in the principality of Monaco? I was just there a few weeks ago during the F1 Grand Prix. Place is flat out amazing and also amazingly expensive.

Well, I was under the impression that Monaco was its own city-state, much like Singapore is, so I thought Monaco was a city in itself and Monte Carlo was just a section of the city. Correct me if I'm wrong. But yeah, the Monaco Grand Prix must've been awesome...Definitely one of the hardest circuits in motor racing hands down. I read somewhere that if the Monaco GP wasn't already a part of F1, it wouldn't be allowed because of safety reasons. The tunnel section with the chicane right after it is fucking nuts...

And yeah, I'm also wondering how some of the cities in the smaller European principalities didn't make the list. Most notably San Marino (the city, which is the capital of the country of the same name) and Vaduz (Liechtenstein).

Jun 14, 2011

Nice, any good pics? F1 and MotoGP are the most amazing.

skylinegtr94:
design:

How is Monaco not on the list...?

I think you might mean Monte Carlo, the city in the principality of Monaco? I was just there a few weeks ago during the F1 Grand Prix. Place is flat out amazing and also amazingly expensive.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Jun 11, 2011

^^^^ dubai....

Jun 11, 2011

Geneva and Zurich.

Jun 11, 2011

I spent 6 months in Africa and I can attest to the cost of living well. Internet, good food, nice apartment, utilities and cable were very expensive. Groceries were extremely expensive. It is utterly surprising that Chad, one of the least developed places on the world, had any place of repute.

I traveled all over (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Angola, South Africa and Botswana) and I can tell you there definitely is money to be made there. Nigeria, with its massive population will soon join the BRICs because of its massive population and incredibly educated diaspora (the most educated group in the USA are Nigerians).

I am currently working on a start-up that deals with investing in Africa. PM for questions.

I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
-Styles P

Jun 12, 2011
eokpar02:

I spent 6 months in Africa and I can attest to the cost of living well. Internet, good food, nice apartment, utilities and cable were very expensive. Groceries were extremely expensive. It is utterly surprising that Chad, one of the least developed places on the world, had any place of repute.

I traveled all over (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Angola, South Africa and Botswana) and I can tell you there definitely is money to be made there. Nigeria, with its massive population will soon join the BRICs because of its massive population and incredibly educated diaspora (the most educated group in the USA are Nigerians).

I am currently working on a start-up that deals with investing in Africa. PM for questions.

saaaaay.... is there a Nigerian prince involved?

More is good, all is better

Jun 12, 2011
Argonaut:

saaaaay.... is there a Nigerian prince involved?

Weirdly enough, just as I was reading this I received an email from one...

People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people Jeremy

Jun 12, 2011
eokpar02:

I spent 6 months in Africa and I can attest to the cost of living well. Internet, good food, nice apartment, utilities and cable were very expensive. Groceries were extremely expensive. It is utterly surprising that Chad, one of the least developed places on the world, had any place of repute.

I traveled all over (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Angola, South Africa and Botswana) and I can tell you there definitely is money to be made there. Nigeria, with its massive population will soon join the BRICs because of its massive population and incredibly educated diaspora (the most educated group in the USA are Nigerians).

I am currently working on a start-up that deals with investing in Africa. PM for questions.

It's funny you should mentioned Nigerians are the most educated, because I remember reading in the WSJ that immigration officers were getting confused over the last name "Mba," because they thought it meant they had literally gotten their MBA! They're going like, "No, your last name, not your degree." Priceless.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 11, 2011

I remember this article from last year. Luanda was #3 then as well. I have a strong feeling we had a discussion about it on WSO, but I can't seem to find it.

Jun 11, 2011

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

Jun 12, 2011
ucla:

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

I believe being able to serve yourself alcohol at a bar is illegal in most/all states (not sure, but I think this is why that doesn't exist here).

Jun 12, 2011
ucla:

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

I've been to both of those places as well! They were pretty epic. A bunch of friends and I also went to an expat bar called Blind Eye where they had karaoke on Saturday nights. Great times!

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 12, 2011
Pfalzer:
ucla:

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

I've been to both of those places as well! They were pretty epic. A bunch of friends and I also went to an expat bar called Blind Eye where they had karaoke on Saturday nights. Great times!

YES! Place is called Karlovy Lazne for any monkeys hitting up the EU this summer... epic times, right on that bridge over the river too. Drinks priced like back home but i think bottles were cheaper (just remember to buy an extra Belv to pour on the peasants)!

Jun 13, 2011
ucla:

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

Karlovy Lazne and Beer Factory respectively. Karlovy Lazne is one time thing though (or atleast thts my advice), the drinks are unnecesarily expensive relative to other places in Prague, and anyone who has visited the basement floor knows how bad it can smell down there.

I went to high school in Prague, and I would say chicks arent that great compared to NYC

Jun 13, 2011
derivstrading:
ucla:

haha yeah, definitely some pretty smokin' chicks. For anyone who's been there, most of my time there was a blur, but I hit up a 5 story club which was awesome. I think it's probably a landmark for anyone who's gone clubbing in downtown Prague. Also discovered their "pour your own beer" bars (you take a table, in the middle of the table there's a giant machine which keeps track of the beer you pour yourself...best invention ever. They even post table scores up on a giant board so people are encouraged to out drink each other). I hope they one day hit America.

Karlovy Lazne and Beer Factory respectively. Karlovy Lazne is one time thing though (or atleast thts my advice), the drinks are unnecesarily expensive relative to other places in Prague, and anyone who has visited the basement floor knows how bad it can smell down there.

I went to high school in Prague, and I would say chicks arent that great compared to NYC

Man, you can't compare high school chicks with NYC 20+ chicks :)

Jun 12, 2011

Wow surprised with the price ranges in African cirties. But, I think it's more of a supply issue..

Jun 12, 2011
Midas Mulligan Magoo:

telltale sign of not only how the global power landscape is changing, but where it is going.

In a way you've hit the nail on the head - I find it interesting that Switzerland shows up twice in the list. The current metrics backing the conclusions are as fictitious as IPO models. Example: $7K for a luxury apartment in N Africa is higher price than for a luxury apartment in NYC????

Jun 12, 2011

Also, just occurred to me--what about Luxembourg or any of the other small, wealthy cities in Western Europe?

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 13, 2011

I call BS. Any list that doesn't include fucking London is wrong.

Jun 13, 2011

Not that it matters much, but those of you reminiscing over th $.50 mugs in Prague are slightly mistaken. The pints nowadays are generally 49 krowns which is about $2-2.50 depending on the exchange rate... still a hell of a deal for a tall and highly concentrated beer. I studied in Europe last semester and I must agree that London definitely belongs on the list, as it was certainly the most expensive city I visited, and I went to a lot of places. Even the public transportation in London is costly.. if I remember correctly it was about $45 for a 3 day tube pass (oyster card)... insane.

Jun 15, 2011
rjcip331:

I studied in Europe last semester and I must agree that London definitely belongs on the list, as it was certainly the most expensive city I visited, and I went to a lot of places. Even the public transportation in London is costly.. if I remember correctly it was about $45 for a 3 day tube pass (oyster card)... insane.

London is funny....it's like the numbers in the price of things is the same as in the states, but it's pounds instead of dollars.

Jun 17, 2011
rjcip331:

Not that it matters much, but those of you reminiscing over th $.50 mugs in Prague are slightly mistaken. The pints nowadays are generally 49 krowns which is about $2-2.50 depending on the exchange rate... still a hell of a deal for a tall and highly concentrated beer. I studied in Europe last semester and I must agree that London definitely belongs on the list, as it was certainly the most expensive city I visited, and I went to a lot of places. Even the public transportation in London is costly.. if I remember correctly it was about $45 for a 3 day tube pass (oyster card)... insane.

Beers are still $1. If you are paying 49 krowns you are generally paying too much. Obviously simple logic applies here like don't grab lunch right on old town square. Granted I got accustomed to the dirt cheapness of the place by hanging out in the Zizkov a lot...

Also, Karlovny Lazny is the worst, unless you like hanging out with 15 yr olds. Lucerna for 80's night, Mecca Wednesdays, Cross Club, etc are where its at. Beer Factory can be fun too for its novelty.

Jun 14, 2011

Ndjamena. wtf? I call BS too

Still I Rise

Jun 14, 2011

MMM, why do you think that Moscow is not indicative of its region's economic climate, but Ndjamena and Luanda are?

More is good, all is better

Jun 18, 2011
Argonaut:

MMM, why do you think that Moscow is not indicative of its region's economic climate, but Ndjamena and Luanda are?

Africa is growing. Though there are huge structural issues, there does seem to be a willingness on the part of Africa itself to open up to foreign investment, which will eventually give local upstarts the opportunity to compete with the entrenched ruling classes.

Russia on the other hand is becoming more centralized. Warlord-ism is flourishing and the requisite transparency for foreign investment is decreasing rather than increasing. Someone else mentioned Moscow being a two sided city, this is the price effect of having 1% of the citizenry in the multi billionaire range and the rest struggling to get by.

Now, I get that the same argument can be made for Africa but I also feel that there are completely non market related issues that drive the Russian economy. These reasons (which I really don't feel like delving into as they are pretty obvious) lead me to see Russia as way too unreliable for long term growth and prosperity. Oddly enough, I do see Africa (especially coastal nations) as pretty stable down the line.

Jun 15, 2011

As far as the Prague thing, you can definitely still get 1 USD beers if you aren't in heavily concentrated touristy type areas. (Got off the train in Kittsee by mistake and my buddy and I paid like 12 USD for lunch, beers, and dessert at a halfway decent place).

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jun 15, 2011
happypantsmcgee:

As far as the Prague thing, you can definitely still get 1 USD beers if you aren't in heavily concentrated touristy type areas. (Got off the train in Kittsee by mistake and my buddy and I paid like 12 USD for lunch, beers, and dessert at a halfway decent place).

Aww, sharing dessert with your buddy, how cute.

More is good, all is better

Jun 15, 2011
Argonaut:
happypantsmcgee:

As far as the Prague thing, you can definitely still get 1 USD beers if you aren't in heavily concentrated touristy type areas. (Got off the train in Kittsee by mistake and my buddy and I paid like 12 USD for lunch, beers, and dessert at a halfway decent place).

Aww, sharing dessert with your buddy, how cute.

Yea dude grabbing a quick lunch with my buddy makes me gay, way to sniff that out.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jun 15, 2011
happypantsmcgee:

As far as the Prague thing, you can definitely still get 1 USD beers if you aren't in heavily concentrated touristy type areas. (Got off the train in Kittsee by mistake and my buddy and I paid like 12 USD for lunch, beers, and dessert at a halfway decent place).

Ah, hearing stories like that makes me reminisce so much; makes me want to go back. Too bad it isn't really a financial center; otherwise I'd be there right now! And yes, Czech girls are beautiful, especially if you're into the blonde hair and blue eyes.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Jun 15, 2011

"Special desert time" doesn't really strike me as something you would augment a "quick lunch" with, but hey - whatever floats your boat XD

More is good, all is better

Jun 17, 2011
Argonaut:

"Special desert time" doesn't really strike me as something you would augment a "quick lunch" with, but hey - whatever floats your boat XD

Special dessert time must be your safe word or something with YOUR buddy because no one said it here.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Jun 17, 2011
Comment

More is good, all is better

Jun 16, 2011
Jun 17, 2011
Comment

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Pages