Living in a big city often comes at a price — literally. The most popular places around the world are coveted for a reason, so living in one will cost you extra. A 2021 cost of living study conducted by Mercer compared the prices of housing, transportation, food, clothing, and more to find the most expensive cities to call home. Learn about all the places that landed on the list (even some you’ve probably never heard of before!) and what makes them so pricey.
40. Dhaka, Bangladesh
39. Dublin, Ireland
Between its expansive bodies of water — like the River Liffey, seen here — and lush green mountains, there’s no doubt Dublin is one of the most picturesque places in Europe. As tech giants like Google and Amazon open up shop here, however, it’s made for extremely high housing prices.
The Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, is a key trading hub and the place to be for all things business. The creative city also loves the arts, and hosts the Pan-African Music Festival every year.
37. Vienna, Austria
Vienna’s historical buildings serve as the backdrop for Austria’s most populated city. But with so many people comes a competitive housing market. As of 2021, the average home prices in Vienna rose more than 10 percent from the year before.
35. Nagoya, Japan
33. Paris, France
The capital of New Caledonia — one of the richest countries in the world — looks right out of a postcard. Because of Nouméa’s size and location, it relies on expensive imports for many ordinary items. For a one-week trip here, prepare to shell out at least $2,000.
31. Sydney, Australia
Sydney jumped a shocking 35 spots on the list in one year — it was only #66 in 2020. The reason? A housing shortage and low interest rates. In fact, it takes an average of 8 years to save up enough for a deposit on a home in the area.
Between its river port and connecting roads to other nations, Bangui is a big commercial center for central Africa. While housing prices are average here, other expenses like internet connection, mobile phones, furniture, and kitchen appliances are higher, driving up the cost of living.
29. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Have you seen a more futuristic skyline? Saudi Arabia’s capital is booming with jobs, famous shops like the Souq Al Zal market, and business opportunities. As of November 2021, apartment values increased 17 percent from the year prior.
If you want to move to Chengdu, you need to step your fashion game up. The city places a high importance on luxury items, and even opened one of the only high-end malls in Western China. Residents can often be spotted in designer duds, and there’s even a large secondhand market for such goods.
27. Nanjing, China
Over the years, home prices in Nanjing have risen by at least 20 percent. Add that to the buzzing nightlife and tourist must-sees, like the Purple Mountain and Confucius Temple, and you’ve got quite the expensive city.
Tianjin, which means “Heavenly Ford,” lives up to its name. The waterside city is home to some of China’s best museums and architectural designs. However, it’s also pricey, so be prepared to spend on everything from rent to a ride on the famous Tianjin Eye ferris wheel.
25. San Francisco, California
In real life, the Tanners from Full House would have quite a steep mortgage. Home prices in San Francisco increased 10 percent from early 2021, bringing the average price to around $1.5 million.
Once Abidjan’s lagoon opened to the sea in 1950, the city became a key financial center for the region. Fun fact: Abidjan is sometimes referred to as the “Paris of West Africa.”
23. Osaka, Japan
Picture riding on a boat through Times Square, and you’ve pretty much imagined Dōtonbori. The iconic shopping street in Osaka runs along the canal, and serves as one of the hottest tourist destinations in Japan.