Paris tops ranking of world’s most expensive cities to live for the first time

Paris has climbed to the top of the world's priciest cities to live in - beating Geneva and Copenhagen, and tying with Hong Kong and Singapore.

Paris tops ranking of world's most expensive cities to live for the first time
Paris is the world's most expensive city to live in. Photo AFP

The new Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report named Paris as the joint most expensive city, up one from its 2018 ranking as the second most expensive in the world.

The French capital was the only eurozone city in the top 10, rising from second most expensive in the world last year and from seventh position two years ago.

Paris is “extremely expensive to live in”, said the report, with an average two-piece business suit for men quoted at around €1,700 and a typical women's haircut was costed at €150, it found.


Paris revealed as 'most expensive' city in EU (but it's not all bad news)Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr

The Economist Intelligence Unit, which carried out the research, said it was the first time in the more than three decades of the survey that three cities were equally ranked top, after Singapore led the chart outright a year earlier.

After Paris featured highly in previous rankings from the EIU, the report's author told The Local:  “Paris has always been expensive. It's partly driven by high real estate prices that feed through to retail prices. 

“It's just structurally expensive and the high wages also makes a difference.”

“Parisians shouldn't see it as bad news. It's partly due to the high salaries there. It just means other places abroad are cheaper when they go and visit.

“They will have a much higher purchasing power. It's the same in places like Oslo where prices are also driven up by the very high salaries.”

But there was some good news for Paris residents – transport, alcohol and tobacco all offered good value for money compared to other European cities.

The top ten list was dominated by Asian and European cities, with Osaka and Seoul in joint fifth and joint seventh places respectively, and Zurich (4th), Geneva (joint 5th) and Copenhagen (joint 7th) also in the elite club. North America was represented by the US cities of New York, seventh, and Los Angeles, tied 10th with Israel's Tel Aviv.


Why France is more popular than ever with foreign professionals

Photo: encrier/Depositphotos

Currency appreciation, inflation and devaluation as well as political upheaval played a part in this year's rankings, said EIU, which surveyed 133 cities worldwide.

It compared 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food and drink, clothing, home rental, transport, schooling and recreation.

The survey is aimed at helping companies calculate compensation packages and allowances for expatriate staff and business travellers.

Caracas dethroned Damascus as the world's cheapest city amid a power struggle in Venezuela that plunged the country into a deepening crisis.

“As Damascus and Caracas show, a growing number of locations are becoming cheaper because of the impact of political or economic disruption,” EIU said.

Asia's economic divide was underscored, with cities including Bangalore (129th), Karachi (127th), Chennai (125th) and New Delhi (123rd) ranking near  the bottom.

“Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable,” EIU said.

We'd like those of you who live in Paris, or know the French capital, to tell us what things are actually cheap in the city. Please fill out our questionnaire here.

Member comments

  1. I have found Paris to be generally no more expensive than London. Travel is much better value and if you live in Paris, rather than just visit it, it’s possible to economise. No-one has to pay 150€ for a haircut; 40€ in a neighbourhood salon will give you a perfectly competent cut. Paris has budget chainstores as much as high-end boutiques. It’s all about being clever with what money you have.

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

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