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Tel Aviv dethrones Hong Kong as the most expensive city to live in right now

Though our city is still one of the most expensive cities in the world, the SAR drops its pricey status to number five

Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Tatum Ancheta

According to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Tel Aviv is now the most expensive city in the world, knocking Hong Kong down to number five from its previous top position last year. The new shift was brought about by the challenges of the pandemic, affecting the industry's supply chain, exchange-rate shifts, and changing consumer demand.  

An awesome sunset at the Devil's Peak, Hong Kong
Hong Kong tied at the top with Paris and Zurich from last year's ranking I Photograph: Shutterstock

EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living is a twice-yearly survey that compares more than 400 individual prices across over 200 products and services in 173 cities. The data were collected between August 16 and September 12, 2021, when US-China shipping prices had risen sharply, resulting in higher prices for goods.  

For the first time, Tel Aviv, Israel tops the chart due to the shekel's soaring currency and price spikes in one-tenth of the city's goods led by groceries and transport. Last year, Hong Kong tied at the top with Paris and Zurich, but the new rankings now push Paris down to second place together with Singapore, followed by Zurich. Other major cities on the list include New York, Geneva, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Osaka. 

The current rankings are dominated by European and developed Asian cities, while the cheapest cities are mainly coming in from the Middle East and Africa, as well as developing parts of Asia. 

Tram in Hong Kong
Hong Kong tops the ten most expensive cities to buy petrol I Photograph: Shutterstock

According to the study, the inflation rate tracked in the index is the highest recorded over the past five years. Transport is leading the biggest price increase by 21 percent on average, and Hong Kong tops the 10 most expensive cities to buy petrol, averaging at US$2.50 price for a litre of unleaded petrol. Does it mean it's time for Hongkongers to hasten the conversion of fuel-propelled cars to electric vehicles? In March, the government announced a roadmap on the popularisation of electric vehicles to help Hong Kong achieve its zero vehicular emissions before 2050. But with high electric vehicle costs and lack of charging facilities in the city, we may still have a long way to go.   

According to the EIU, with the world currently shifting and adjusting to the ongoing pandemic, the uncertainties of the past year mean that there is no clear regional pattern to ranking movements of the most expensive cities, and we may still expect to see the cost of living rise further in many cities in the coming year.

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