Cost of living in the best cities around Asia and the world

20 February 2023 dot 5-minute read
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How do you define liveability? Japan's Mori Foundation looks at the working environment, cost of living, security and safety, wellbeing and ease of living. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Many factors come into play for a city to be ranked as one of the best "liveable" cities.Stability, healthcare, culture, education, environment and infrastructure all play a role. The cost of living is another crucial indicator of a city's liveability.
As it turns out, the "most liveable" cities based on surveys are also some of the most expensive. To get an idea of living expenses, look at the cost of rent in cities that frequently appear in the top 10 surveys, such as the UN Habitat's Global Competitiveness Report.

Cost of rent in six most liveable cities

Six cities common in the surveys were New York, Singapore, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam and Paris. Here's a list of average monthly rents for an apartment or flat in each city.
Table of apartment monthly rental cost in liveable cities
New York and Singapore rank as the world's most expensive cities in 2022, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living report. Both are also on the list of the most expensive cities for international employees in global consulting firm Mercer's Cost of Living Survey.

Quality of life at an affordable cost

Is there a high-ranking liveable city with an affordable cost of living? Based on global consulting firm Mercer's analysis, five cities in Europe and North America hold the most promise for lower cost of living, highest liveability and eco-friendliness.
Table of apartment monthly rental cost based on Mercer research on most expensive cities
Mercer states that Hong Kong has the highest cost but lower quality of living than most other locations in the firm's Cost of Living Index and Quality of Living Index. The country was also

Top 10 best cities in the world

Here's a rundown of the 10 best cities under each report, which has a scoring system based on specific indicators and factors to derive each city's rank. The following also considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Index (172 cities)

City indicators: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
European cities dominate, with Osaka in Japan as the only city in Asia in the top 10.
  1. Vienna
  2. Copenhagen
  3. Zurich
  4. Calgary
  5. Vancouver
  6. Geneva
  7. Frankfurt
  8. Toronto
  9. Amsterdam
  10. Osaka and Melbourne

Mori Foundation Global Power City Index (48 cities)

City indicators: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, liveability, environment, and accessibility.
London ranks first, and Tokyo takes the lead among the four Asian cities on the list.
  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Tokyo
  4. Paris
  5. Singapore
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Berlin
  8. Seoul
  9. Madrid
  10. Shanghai

Global Finance World Best Cities to Live in (48 cities)

City indicators: uses data from Mori Foundation Global Power City Index but accounts for Covid-19 deaths per thousand for the country and annual population growth rate.
London is the world's best city on this list, followed by three Asian cities.
  1. London
  2. Tokyo
  3. Shanghai
  4. Singapore
  5. Melbourne
  6. Sydney
  7. Paris
  8. Beijing
  9. New York
  10. Amsterdam

The UN Habitat's Global Competitiveness Report 2020 – 2021 (1,000 cities)

City indicators: economic and sustainable competitiveness. The report also shows each country's standing based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Economic competitiveness.
1. New York
2. Singapore
3. Tokyo
4. London
5. Munich
6. San Francisco
7. Los Angeles
8. Paris
9. Shenzhen
10. San Jose
Sustainable competitiveness
  1. Tokyo
  2. Singapore
  3. New York
  4. Hong Kong
  5. London
  6. Paris
  7. San Francisco
  8. Barcelona
  9. Shenzhen
  10. Osaka

Standard of living challenges

A recent NielsenIQ global analysis reports that the top three primary causes of financial concern for consumers across the globe are food and grocery costs and gas and utility costs. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Home rental prices are soaring worldwide. The World Economic Forum reports Europe saw rents rise by 14.5 per cent across all home types in the first three months of 2022. Renters in Asia spend more than half their income on housing costs, which means budget tightening on other living expenses like groceries and transportation.
The rising cost of food and energy is driving the global inflation surge, according to an article the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published in September 2022. IMF adds the average global cost of living has risen more in the 18 months than in the preceding five years combined.
Your cost of living may face challenges entering the new year. Protect against unexpected healthcare costs that increase as you age. Safeguard your pursuit of a better life with medical protection wherever you put down roots.
*Home rental prices are based on a one-bedroom apartment and are subject to change. Sources for the cost of rent in 2022 are in the references. All figures are in U.S. dollars.
Having the choice to live the kind of life you want starts with a strong financial foundation. In this episode of AIA Voices, finance expert Anna Haotanto shares the six steps towards financial success.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
The Economist Intelligence Unit. 2022. Global Liveability Index 2022. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
The Economist Intelligence Unit. 2022. New York and Singapore rank as the world's most expensive cities. [online] [Accessed on 7 December 2022]
Mori Foundation. 2022. Global Power City Index 2021. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 202]
Global Finance. 2022. World's Best Cities To Live In 2022. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
UN-Habitat and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 2021. Global Competitiveness Report 2020-2021. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
Mercer. 2022. Global Report Cost of Living. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
International Monetary Fund. 2022. Chart of the Week: How Food and Energy are Driving the Global Inflation Surge. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
World Economic Forum. 2022. The cost-of-living crisis has pushed 71 million people into poverty - here's what needs to happen. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
World Economic Forum. 2022. The cost-of-living crisis has pushed 71 million people into poverty - here's what needs to happen. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
Singapore Economic Development Board. 2022. Cost of Living Calculator. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
The Elliman Report. 2022. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Rentals August 2022. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
Statista. 2022. Average cost of rent by region UK. [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
BBC News. 2022. London rents: Competition for homes pushes up prices. [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
The Elliman Report. 2022. Manhattan, Brooklyn & Northwest Queens Rentals December 2022 [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
Japan Guide. 2022. Living Costs [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
Financial Times. 2022. Renting in Tokyo: the perks and the pitfalls [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
Dutch News. 2022. Rents soar in big Dutch cities as government squeezes 'free' sector. [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
Liv Strategies. 2023. Rent Reports. [online] [Accessed on 16 January 2023]
CTV News. 2022.  Average rent in Canada exceeds $2,000 per month: report. [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
Residensportalen. 2022.  Average rental levels of rental properties. [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
World Economic Forum. 2022.The housing crisis is getting worse – how can we fix it? [online] [Accessed on 24 October 2022]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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