December 1, 2020

The 10 Most Expensive Cities in a Post-COVID-19 World

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The 10 Most Expensive Cities in a Post-COVID-19 World

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Hong Kong, Paris, and Zurich have been named as the most expensive cities in the world, according to a 2020 Cost of Living report conducted by The Economist. The three cities tied in first place, only the second time three locations have shared the top spot in the research report’s 30-year history. 

Singapore came in close second, having shared the top spot with Paris and Hong Kong last year. Experts indicate Singapore’s lower ranking is due to the number of expatriates leaving the city state during this year’s pandemic, which led to a decline in demand for consumer goods. In the U.S., the most expensive city was found to be New York, with Los Angeles also making the top 10. 

An international relocation can be challenging regardless where an assignee and their family move, but it can be especially trying if the host location is more expensive than the home country. When it comes to cost of living, setting expectations is key to ensuring a successful transition. 

Pandemic Impact 

paris-eiffel-tower-and-skyline-aerial-france-small.jpgThe cost of living around the world for 2020 has undoubtedly been impacted by the global pandemic. This is particularly so for the price of non-essential goods, with many retail stores closed during local and national lockdowns. Goods shortages have also pushed up prices, as the cost of items—like toilet paper and pasta—rose throughout the year. The economic impact of coronavirus has created a steep decline in disposable income in many countries, as well as a shift in how people choose to spend their money. For example, with many people working from home, buying new clothes for work is no longer deemed essential.  

The full Cost of Living report compares the cost of around 138 goods in more than 130 cities around the world. For more information visit 

Managing a Relocation 

In any major city, the cost of living can constantly fluctuate. For example, the cost of a bag of groceries may be a certain amount for the first year of a move but change dramatically in the second. A rental property may be one price at the start of an assignment but far more expensive a year later. Such changes should always be factored in when calculating cost of living allowances or rental budgets. 

Have a query about your international mobility program? Contact your Cartus representative, or email 

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Cartus Communications

About Cartus

Cartus is the trusted industry leader, offering guidance on a wide range of topics related to global relocation using expertise gained through more than four million moves and a diverse client base.

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