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New survey reveals world’s most expensive, cheapest cities


Researchers looked at the prices of 138 products and services – including food, drink, clothing, and household supplies in around 130 cities worldwide – to draw up the ranking of the most and least costly metropolises.

Damascus, the capital of war-torn Syria, is rated as the cheapest city in the world, with prices slightly higher in Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan. Lagos made the list of 130 cited, though falls in the middle session.


The ranking has been put together by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as part of its 2020 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. It has conducted the survey for a second time this year to take into account COVID-19’s impact on global prices and incomes.

The EIU said that Paris and Zurich have both moved up the ranking to the top spot from joint fifth due to the rise of the Euro and Swiss Franc against the US dollar, as well as the “comparative decline in the cost of living in the two Asian cities that previously sat at the top of the table”.

Those two cities are Singapore and Osaka, which drop to fourth and joint fifth, respectively, with Osaka tying with Israeli city Tel Aviv. According to the EIU, prices in Singapore fell as the pandemic led to an exodus of foreign workers.


“With the city state’s overall population contracting for the first time since 2003, demand has declined, and deflation has set in. Osaka has seen similar trends, with consumer prices stagnating and the Japanese government subsidising costs such as public transport,” the report read in part.

In joint seventh place is the Swiss city of Geneva, alongside New York – the city the index is benchmarked against – which dropped one spot. In joint ninth place are Copenhagen and Los Angeles – another US city to drop one place in the ranking.

Elsewhere, London moves up three places to 20th, while Manchester jumps to joint 46th place from 51st earlier in the year. Out of the Australian entries, it’s Sydney that’s highest (15th), with the country’s other entries being Melbourne (18th), Brisbane (38th) and Adelaide (46th).

This biggest mover in the ranking is Tehran, which jumps 27 places amid US sanctions, which have disrupted the supply of goods.


At the bottom of the list, joining Damascus and Tashkent among the cheapest cities are Lusaka in Zambia and the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The EIU notes that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted spending habits all over the world, with the prices of essential goods proving more resilient than those deemed non-essential.

“However, this translates to prices for staples, such as coffee, cheese, rice and orange juice, remaining flat, rather than necessarily increasing. Clothing is the only category to see an average fall in the index.

“On the other hand, consumer electronics (categorised within recreation) saw the largest rise, in line with the entire category. This particular rise can be attributed to production shortages and increased demand as people moved to working from home.”


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