Wherever you live, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the cost of just existing. Mortgages, rents, utilities, food, gasoline, taxes… Sometimes, when you reach the end of the month, you’ve got nothing left to show for all your hard work. So imagine how people feel in the most expensive countries on earth..
Taking a look at the 10 most expensive countries to live in might help put things in perspective. Every one of these places is considerably more expensive than the United States. (For reference, the US ranks 20th, with an index ranking of 71.05.)
So let’s take a peek at the countries with the highest cost of living in the world. Maybe if you win the lottery you can move to one of these places and be middle class. Jokes.
By the way, we’ve borrowed this data from the global Cost of Living Index. It considers rent, food prices, restaurant prices, and purchasing power, and ranks countries based on their overall affordability under that rubric. The higher the number, the more expensive the country.
Cost of Living Index: 78.18
South Korea is both a completely modern country and the seat of a 5,000-year-old civilization. From K Pop to ancient temples, you’ll find a seamless blend of the very old and the very new.
The largest city in South Korea is Seoul. While it’s quite expensive, even as major cities go, living outside the capital is much more reasonable. The most expensive thing about living in South Korea? The groceries (index rating: 91.31).
Cost of Living Index: 81.1
Singapore is a city state on a small island at the tip of Southeast Asia. Though small, it occupies a key position in Asian shipping lanes. As such, it has been an important port for centuries.
In more recent times, it has become a hypermodern world city, with all the amenities you could ask for. Where glamor is concerned, you can put Singapore on a par with Paris, London, or Hong Kong — just a bit smaller.
Nothing about Singapore is crazy expensive, but it is moderately pricy across the board — from rent prices, to groceries, to dining out.
Cost of Living Index: 81.15
Israel is a land of great history and great faith. It offers breezy Mediterranean resort towns, and further inland, the most sacred city in the world. Jerusalem is a site of pilgramage for all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. As such, Israel has never lacked appeal.
While rent is surprisingly cheap here, groceries (66.31) and eating out (88.65) will both set you back a bit.
Cost of Living Index: 81.89
Luxembourg is another small but fabulously rich country. It occupies a strategic location between France, Germany, and the other Low Countries. Despite its small size, it has burgeoning tech and financial sectors that have allowed it to punch above its weight economically.
That’s reflected in the high cost of living — and even visiting. Its numbers are consistently quite high across the board, but the highest is eating out (89.85). On the bright side, you won’t have to carry much change… because you won’t get any.
Cost of Living Index: 82.51
The Bahamas comprises about 2,000 islands. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. But it’s definitely not a bargain destination.
The Bahamanian Dollar is on a 1:1 par with the USD. That’s good because it means American visitors won’t have to change currency. But don’t expect to save either.
The high costs are also augmented by the fact that virtually everything has to be imported.
Cost of Living Index: 83
Denmark is a gorgeous Scandinavian country, just north of Germany. You’ll fall in love with the architecture, the coastal towns, and the warmth of the people. Denmark is one of the most progressive countries in the world.
Of course, that comes with a cost. The minimum wage in Denmark is about $19 USD per hour. While rent is pretty cheap and groceries aren’t terrible, dining out will definitely cost you (100.75).
Cost of Living Index: 83.35
Japan is a wonderful country to visit. Seriously. If you visit, you will be amazed at how clean everything is and how efficiently the country operates. It puts most other countries to shame. Plus, the people are super friendly and eager to help.
While rent is pretty cheap and there are plenty of affordable restaurants, groceries are quite expensive (81.82).
Cost of Living Index: 100.48
Iceland is one of the most popular tourist countries of the past decade. Its natural beauty is unparalleled. With a population of less than half a million people, its rugged volcanic landscape remains untouched — except by overeager tourists. There have been so many visitors to Iceland in the last few years that the government actually instituted a special tourist tax to stem the tide.
As for living here, that’s plenty expensive as well. While housing costs are reasonable, both groceries and dining out are very pricey — largely because so much has to be imported.
Cost of Living Index: 101.43
Norway is famous for its scenic fjords, steep cliffed bays that jut into the coastline of the country. It’s also famous as a very expensive destination. Living there isn’t a discount either. Rents are pretty cheap (36.15), but groceries (91.14) and restaurants (109.28) will leave you in the poorhouse.
Cost of Living Index: 122.4
Nestled in the Alps, Switzerland boasts unparalleled views of green Alpine valleys. Other selling points include winter sports, and a friendly multilingual population.
Unfortunately, Switzerland is also the gold standard for most expensive countries. The only comparatively affordable thing here is housing (50.25). But groceries (120.27) and dining out (123.01) are off-the-charts outrageous.