Seven Most Expensive Cities in the World To Visit & Live In

Seven Most Expensive Cities in the World To Visit & Live In

The world is full of cities attracting millions of tourists and ex-pats yearly. Some of these places include:

  • Tokyo in Japan
  • Copenhagen in Denmark
  • London in the United Kingdom
  • Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou in China
  • Seoul in South Korea
  • U.S. cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles 

As a result, the most desirable destinations only become more expensive each year. While there are plenty of affordable locations for travelers on a budget, we will cover the seven most costly places to visit and live worldwide.

Zurich, Switzerland

Despite its relatively small size, Switzerland is among the wealthiest countries in the world. On top of that, its serene, mountainous location makes it one of Europe’s most picturesque offerings. 

All of this combines to make Switzerland's biggest city the most expensive in Europe. Among Zurich’s top attractions are Lake Zurich, the Museum of Art, featuring works by Monet and van Gogh, and the Old Town, known locally as the Alstadt. 

Zurich’s fusion of historical architecture and modern flair, positioned before the Swiss Alps, makes it a highly sought-after destination. A single person living in a studio flat can expect over $3,000 in monthly living expenses, while hotels can be over $300 per night.

Do You Need ETIAS To Travel to Switzerland?

All non-EU citizens, including U.S. citizens, will be required to register for ETIAS to enter Europe’s Schengen Area beginning as early as 2023. Switzerland, along with Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland, is part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), meaning it is not a full member of the EU or Schengen Area. 

That said, all EFTA countries are on a Schengen Agreement. As a result, ETIAS will be required for non-EU citizens to enter Switzerland and other EFTA nations.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm reveres its waterfront location, brightly-colored buildings, and clean, natural air. Sweden has some of the cleanest air in the world. This, along with outstanding healthcare, a progressive work culture, and strong government support, makes Sweden one of the happiest countries

In addition to its desirability, Sweden continues to use its currency, the Krona, despite being an EU nation. This is another contributing factor to its high cost of living and travel.

Paris, France

As the epicenter of French culture, Paris is revered for its fine dining, world-renowned museums, and high-end shopping. Consequently, Paris is one of the most expensive cities to live in and travel to. 

The tourism economy is incredibly lucrative for Paris, as around 28 million travelers pass through Paris each year. Regarding meals, transportation, and entertainment, tourists can expect to pay nearly $200 a day during a Paris vacation. Hotel rooms in a desirable area can run upward of $350. 

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is one of the world's business capitals, drawing in millions of business people, entrepreneurs, and tourists annually. On top of its strong economy and currency, Hong Kong’s reputation as an expensive city can result from the high cost of household staples. 

Such essentials as milk, cooking oil, and gasoline are significantly more expensive than in any other country.

Tel Aviv, Israel

The strength of the new shekel against the U.S. dollar has made Israel’s capital city one of the world’s most expensive. This is due to a high level of economic growth. In 2021, Israel’s exports hit a record high of $140 billion, up 18 percent from the previous year.

In addition to Israel’s strong economy, Tel Aviv’s growing presence in the tech space contributes to its desirability. On top of that, Tel Aviv is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history, pristine beaches, and bustling nightlife.

Is Israel Part of the EU?

Israel is not geographically located in Europe and is not a part of the European Union. Israel and the EU share positive relations framed by the European Neighborhood Policy, Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and the Union for the Mediterranean. 

New York City, United States

New York City is an economic and cultural hub, making it one of the desirable cities in the United States to visit and live. Within its 22 square miles, Manhattan welcomed 66 million visitors in 2019. 

Additionally, more than 43,000 households relocate to Manhattan each year. This means that real estate is in high demand. In Manhattan’s lower east side, an average one-bedroom apartment will cost over $3,000. 

Meanwhile, a studio apartment in the trendy West Village will be about the same price. These prices, among the most expensive in the world, also carry over to hotels. New York hotels are costly due to a city-wide ban on Airbnb and similar marketplaces.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Known for its vibrant flower blooms and picturesque canals, Amsterdam is packed with sites that draw in droves of tourists. Nonetheless, Amsterdam is relatively small for a major city, with a population of just over 800,000. 

The city’s relatively small size creates a high demand for tourist accommodations, and, as a result, prices rise. Prices are exceptionally high in the city center, which is generally the most desirable area for tourists. While an average hotel will cost over $200 per night, hostels can be found much cheaper.

Is the Netherlands a Schengen Country?

As one of the founding members of the European Union, the Netherlands belongs to the Schengen Area. For non-EU travelers, registration with ETIAS will be required for travel to the Netherlands.

Do I Need a Visa To Enter Europe?

Currently, non-EU citizens from 62 countries, including the United States, can travel to Europe visa-free. This allows travelers to visit Europe for 90 days or 180 days for tourism, business, or transit. 

Upon implementing ETIAS, citizens from 59 countries will continue to travel to Europe visa-free; however, they will need to register for ETIAS before arrival.

How Will ETIAS Change How I Travel to Europe?

Before departure, travelers who require ETIAS will need to apply for ETIAS online. This quick process often results in near-instant approval and is valid for up to three years.

The purpose of ETIAS is to further enhance the border security of EU nations. With ETIAS, EU border agents will have access to a database containing the information of each traveler arriving on any given day. 

This system will enhance identity authentication and expedite the customs process, creating a safer and more efficient experience for travelers and customs agents.

How Long Can I Stay in Europe With ETIAS Authorization?

With ETIAS approval, non-EU travelers will have the same access to Europe as they did before. Stays for up to 90 days within 180 days are acceptable. More extended stays may require a Schengen Visa.

Can I Live in Europe?

ETIAS is not a path to residency or citizenship in the EU. Instead, ETIAS is a program aimed only at travelers during temporary stays. There are ways for non-EU citizens, including U.S. citizens, can obtain EU citizenship.

Several European countries offer a residency by investment program known as a Golden Visa. These schemes allow international investors to obtain European residency by way of investment. Upon establishing residency for a while, you can apply for citizenship. 

These countries include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • The Republic of Ireland

Many of these schemes allow residents access to healthcare and travel benefits throughout the entirety of the EU. Cyprus has one unique program enabling investors to obtain citizenship instantly after investment. 

What To Do Next

The world is full of places to see, and those after a luxurious experience should look no further than Europe. From the alpine views of Zurich to the peaceful canals of Amsterdam, Europe is home to some of the most desirable cities for travelers and residents alike. 

Those planning their next trip to Europe should understand ETIAS and how it applies to them. While ETIAS requires an extra step, the result will be a safer, more efficient travel experience.

 

Sources:

World's most expensive city? Tel Aviv is now top of the list | NBC

What Americans Can Learn From Scandinavians, the Happiest People in the World | Thrillist

These are the most expensive cities to live in around the world | World Economic Forum