These are the world’s most expensive cities

September 18, 2015, 4:01 PM UTC


Switzerland When Google looked to set up its European engineering headquarters, it turned to Zurich, and Yahoo followed suit. The U.S. tech giants liked Zurich's robust broadband infrastructure, but the real appeal is the local talent: Switzerland is the No. 1 country in the world in patents as a percentage of GDP. The Swiss government has multiple programs for investing in small businesses, and the effort seems to be paying off. Zurich is home to hundreds of startups, including calendar software maker Doodle and Wuala, a cloud storage company. Good for
  • R&D/inventions
  • Hardware
  • Green/sustainable
Photo: Allan Baxter/Getty Images

The world’s most expensive cities are Zurich and Geneva, according to a study by investment bank UBS, that doesn’t include rent. The cities top New York City, which is No.3 on the list. If you do include rent, however, it’s no surprise that the U.S. city surges to the top.

The study looks at costs for a family of three per month. UBS found that a Zurich family needs over $3,600 per month, while Geneva costs $3,500. New York is just below at $3,340.

“The Swiss National Bank’s decision to remove the cap has moved prices a lot,” Daniel Kalt, at UBS economist, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Switzerland would probably be shortly below New York City in terms of prices without the shock.”

The methodology is as follows, according to the UBS: “The composition of our reference basket of goods and services represents the spending habits of a three-person European family. The prices of the 122 goods and services are weighted by monthly consumption. For example, we assume that a family in Europe consumes almost 15 kilos (33 pounds) of vegetables every month, but only buys a new personal computer every 2.5 years.”

The least expensive cities, including rent, are Kiev and Sofia.

Check out this chart below to see the relative wage levels of the top 10 most expensive cities based on UBS’ research, which places Zurich and Geneva at the top and New York City as No.3. Nairobi, meanwhile, falls at the bottom of the list with just 6.3 compared to New York’s 100 net value.