The most expensive cities in the world - Paris, Hong Kong, Zurich - and Tel Aviv

Survey also compares costs of around 140 products, with alcohol & tobacco jumping in price during the COVID era.

Nissan Tzur ,

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

A new survey conducted for the Economist has revealed lesser-known financial ramifications from the coronavirus epidemic, resulting from shortages, lockdowns, and the toll on mental health due to fears of the virus and the regulations imposed by governments to contain its spread.

According to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, Paris, Hong Kong, and Zurich are now the most expensive cities in the world, in joint first place, based on a comparison of around 140 products and services. They have displaced Singapore, now in second place, where the cost of living has dropped – largely, according to the Economist, due to a mass exodus of foreign workers from the city-state, in the wake of the coronavirus.

Following them in the rankings are Tel Aviv and Osaka (Japan), and then Geneva, New York, Copenhagen, and Los Angeles.

At the bottom of the rankings, out of the 133 cities compared, are Damascus, the Syrian capital; Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan; Lukasa in Zambia, Caracas, the capital of Venezuela; and Tashkent, the capital of Kazakhstan.

These data are customarily used by companies when calculating the costs of business trips and addressing compensation for workers asked to relocate and so forth. However, in the new coronavirus era, with many more employees being asked to or requesting to work from home, companies are often looking to cut costs by factoring in the lower living expenses of workers living outside the main employment centers.

On the other hand, those working from home often have to invest in personal equipment and better communications infrastructure – reflecting this, the prices of laptops and desktop computers have risen significantly since 2019, on average by 18.7%, the survey shows. Delays in shipping electronics from China during lockdown periods may also have contributed to this jump in prices.

Another effect of the pandemic and lockdown regulations is clearly apparent in the prices of alcohol and cigarettes, which have become far more expensive in the past months. Indicating that the mental health of the general public has taken a significant hit, this is also likely to lead to severe consequences in physical health, something that governments might want to take into consideration going forward.