These are the world’s most expensive cities to live in

COVID-19 restrictions have disrupted the supply of goods, leading to shortages and higher prices in these cities.

A man wearing a facial mask walks across the middle of 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan of New York, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York City ranked sixth on the list of the world's most expensive cities [File: Mary Altaffer/AP]

Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the world, according to an annual survey by the Economist magazine.

The Israeli city takes the top spot from Paris, which dropped to a shared second place with Singapore.

The data was gathered by the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit and was published on Wednesday.

Tel Aviv climbed the rankings partly due to the strength of the national currency, the Israeli shekel, against the US dollar, as well increases in prices for transport and groceries.

Next in the ranking were Zurich, Hong Kong and New York. Rounding off the top 10 were Geneva, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Osaka in 10th place.

The Syrian capital Damascus was ranked the world’s cheapest city to live in.

Restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic “have disrupted the supply of goods, leading to shortages and higher prices,” said Upasana Dutt, the head of worldwide cost of living at The EIU.

“We can clearly see the impact in this year’s index, with the rise in petrol prices particularly stark,” she said, while central banks are expected to raise interest rates cautiously, reducing inflation.

The average inflation figure does not include four cities with exceptionally high rates: Caracas, Damascus, Buenos Aires and Tehran. The Iranian capital rose from 79th to 29th place in the ranking as US sanctions have pushed up prices and caused shortages.

Tel Aviv cost of living

High cost of living has been a persistent issue in Tel Aviv.

In 2011, a “tent revolution” saw young Israelis furious at sharp rises in rents erect shelters on the upmarket Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of the city. A decade later, the tents are gone but the soaring prices have remained.

“The protest had a temporary effect,” said Asher Blass, former chief economist at the Bank of Israel. Tel Aviv’s ranking this year is primarily due to the strong local currency, he said.

Last month, the shekel reached a 25-year high against the dollar. As the cost of housing and other basics like groceries has increased, wage growth has been uneven.

“A lot more needs to be done in opening up competition for goods like agricultural produce” to bring down prices, Blass said.

Top 10 world’s most expensive cities to live in 2021

1. Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv topped the list partly due to the strength of Israeli shekel against the US dollar [File: Corinna Kern/Reuters]

2.  Paris (tie)

Paris took second place after topping the list last year [File: Philippe Lopez/AFP]

2. Singapore (tie)

Singapore’s cost of living tied with Paris in second place, according to the Economist [File: Suhaimi Abdullah/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

4. Zurich

Switzerland is considering tighter restrictions to contain the rising number of new COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 [File: Christian Ender/Getty Images]

5. Hong Kong

Hong Kong fell to fifth place on the list as prices of clothing and personal care dipped, according to the Economist [File: Peter PARKS/AFP]

6. New York City

New York City is often used as the benchmark for the cost of living index [File: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images]

7. Geneva

Geneva is the second Swiss city after Zurich to rank in the top 10 [File: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

8. Copenhagen

Residential and commercial buildings stand on the city skyline seen from the Vor Frue Kirch church tower in Copenhagen [File: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

9. Los Angeles

Los Angeles was the second US city on the list [File:Jerritt Clark/GC Images]

10. Osaka

Japan, Osaka City, Umeda District skyline [File: Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies