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A Global Perspective on Cost of Living

When picking the right property for you, a key factor–to quote the popular TV show, is “Location, Location, Location.” At Rickman Properties, we envision South-West and West London as prime fertile ground for cultivating your perfect home. However, it’s interesting to contrast housing markets and the cost of living in comparable international cities when planning your move. Here we compare the cost of living in notable cities worldwide to hopefully give you some insight into where you wish to call home.

Cost of Living

According to the Mercer 2019 Cost of Living Ranking and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2019, cities in Asia, Europe and North America will set you back the most when budgeting basic amnesties, including housing, food, taxes and healthcare, compared to other regions in the world. The stand-out cities in these rankings are two Asian hubs of international footfall: Hong Kong and Singapore.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that Hong Kong ranks highly in Wealth X’s 2019 World Ultra Wealth Report, hosting the second largest number of individuals with a $30 million or more net worth. This closely trails New York, the only North American city to feature in both Top 10 Cost of Living Rankings.

Other notable cities featuring in these rankings include Toyko, Seoul, Shangai and Beijing in Asia and Zurich, Paris, Geneva and Copenhagen in Europe, with London not placing in either top ten spots, suggesting you’ll get a bit more bang for your buck!

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the nitty-gritty to see why these cities stand-out. 

Property and Rental Prices

Aligning with their cost of living ranking, an April 2019 CBRE study ranked Hong Kong and Singapore as having the highest average property prices, at £955,183 and £676,143 respectively, with the World Economic Forum too judging Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive place to buy. Lower in the rankings is New York (no. 7), London (no. 8), Bejing (no. 9) and Paris (no. 10).

When it comes to renting, however, estimations change. NUMBEO’s Cost of Living tool allows one to compare these notable cities with London. Analysing the average rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre, New York considerably exceeds London, at a 55% higher cost, followed by Hong Kong at 19% more. Interestingly though, statistics suggest it’s notably more affordable to rent a 3-bedroom apartment in Paris and Tokyo, while Geneva and Singapore prove relatively more modest.

Of course, take this data with a pinch of salt. Currency fluctuations linked to economic and political factors means property and rental prices are constantly changing, so keep an eye on these numbers when you’re ready to rent or buy.


Where London does stand out in comparison to the expensive property markets of Asia is for the cost of inner-city transportation.

Out of the cities aforementioned, London leads the pack, with the most expensive average monthly pass for public transport, the only one over £100. This is followed by New York at just under £100, Singapore at under £70, Hong Kong at under £50, Seoul at under £40, and Shanghai and Beijing at under £25. The European cities of Paris, Geneva, and Copenhagen settle in the middle of these two groups.

For the cost of a 1km taxi at a normal tariff, London once again leads the way, racking up one of the most expensive trips at £3.11/per-km, making it about £23 to travel from Holland Park to Trafalgar Square. Our European neighbours of Geneva and Zurich are around about the same. Comparatively, calling a taxi in the selected Asian cities proves much more modest, with most at less than £1 per km, suggesting the cost of living in these cities is perhaps largely marked up due to an expensive housing market. The only mentioned Asian city that somewhat trails London in transportation prices, however, is Tokyo.


While these numbers spark intrigue through providing a global perspective on the comparative cost of living, finding the right property location for you is a highly personalised choice depending on many, sometimes circumstantial, reasons. If ‘London is calling,’ make sure you keep an eye on our website or contact us to receive expert individualised advise!