Amsterdam improves ranking among world's most expensive cities

Amsterdam improves ranking among world's most expensive cities

Continuing a trend that started last year, Amsterdam has improved its position on the Mercer Cost of Living report, a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities, slipping down two spots. The other Dutch city featured in the ranking, The Hague, has moved up two spots. Both still rank among the 50 most expensive cities in the world. 

The Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2024

Released every year, the Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking lists 226 cities around the world in order from most to least expensive places to live. It assesses the comparative costs of over 200 items in each location, including things like housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, utilities and entertainment.

The study uses New York City as a baseline for all comparisons and converts local currencies into US dollars, with prices correct as of March 2024. 

Once again, Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich were ranked as the costliest cities in the world, with factors such as expensive housing markets, high transportation costs, and higher costs of goods and services all contributing to these high living costs. Of the top 10 most expensive cities, half are located in western Europe, and four are in Switzerland. The least expensive cities, according to the ranking, were Islamabad, Lagos and Abuja. 

Amsterdam and The Hague among world’s most expensive cities 

After dropping outside the top 50 for a while, Amsterdam in 2021 rose into the top 50 most expensive cities in the world, a place that it has since sustained, rising to 25th place in 2022. Since then, it has slowly begun to drop down the rankings, a trend that has continued in 2024. After placing 28th overall in 2023, Amsterdam has dropped to position 30 in 2024. It is however still the ninth most expensive city in Europe. 

The Hague has once again risen slightly up the ranking, moving from 46th place in 2023 to 44th in 2024. Within Europe, it is the 16th most expensive city. 

Amsterdam offers high quality of life with high price tag

However, Mercer did highlight that cost of living data also needed to be correlated with data concerning quality of life in all the cities. They emphasised that the “sweet spot” is to be found in a balance between the two, where a city offers a low cost of living combined with a high quality of life. Just eight cities in the ranking found this spot: Ljubljana, Montreal, Warsaw, Zagreb, Budapest, Panama City, Santiago and Kuala Lumpur. 

Elsewhere, in Mercer’s words, “high-quality living comes with a large price tag”. This is the case with Amsterdam, which in Mercer’s analysis falls somewhere in the middle of the crowd as a city that offers both a high quality of life and a high cost of living. 

Cities like Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Beijing, Mexico City, Amman, Kingston, Riyadh and Dakar were singled out as conversely offering a high cost of living with a low quality of life. 

The top 10 most expensive cities in the world in 2024

The top 10 most expensive cities in the world, according to the 2024 Mercer Index, are: 

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland
  6. Bern, Switzerland
  7. New York City, USA
  8. London, UK 
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Los Angeles, USA 
Abi Carter


Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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