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The World’s 10 Most (and Least) Expensive Cities

Editor’s Note: For the latest version of this story, see The World’s Most and Least Expensive Cities, Ranked.

If it seems that most of the cities you most want to visit are particularly expensive, you’re probably right. According to The Economist’s latest “Worldwide Cost of Living” report, the world’s 10 most expensive cities are also among the world’s top travel destinations.

The study’s rankings are based on prices for 160 products and services in each city, including food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, rents, transportation, utility bills, private schools, domestic help, and recreation costs. So what’s being measured is more cost-of-living than cost-of-visiting. Still, if it’s expensive to live there, it’s a safe bet that it’s also expensive to visit.

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As it did in the previous version of the study, Singapore topped the list of the world’s most expensive cities. It was one of three Asian cities on the list:

  1. Singapore, Singapore
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Paris, France
  6. London, U.K.
  7. New York, U.S.
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. Seoul South, Korea
  10. Los Angeles, U.S.

At the other end of the cost-of-living spectrum, Lusaka, Zambia, was the cheapest of the cities reviewed, followed by two of India’s largest cities, Bangalore and Mumbai.

The 10 least expensive cities:

  1. Lusaka, Zambia
  2. Bangalore, India
  3. Mumbai, India
  4. Almaty, Kazakhstan
  5. Algiers, Algeria
  6. Chennai, India
  7. Karachi, Pakistan
  8. New Delhi, India
  9. Damascus, Syria
  10. Caracas, Venezuela

Boasting fully 40 percent of the world’s cheapest cities, India looks like a solid bet for bargain-hunting travelers. If it’s not on your list, perhaps it should be.

Reader Reality Check

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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