Where are the Most Expensive Places on Earth?

coffee” (CC BY 2.0) by b3k

There are a hundred different reasons to move to a different country – property, retirement, relatives, politics – but adjusting to a new climate or way of life are just two of the things expats have to consider. You might also find that your dollar doesn’t go as far in your new country or that you’re suddenly able to get two sandwiches for the price of one.

So, if you’re planning to make a home abroad part of your New Year’s Resolution for 2017, it’s important to find out just how much basic goods are going to cost you before you start packing up your old life. It’s worth noting that cost of living doesn’t necessarily scale with a country’s overall wealth.

For example, you might be surprised to discover that the most expensive city in the world is Hamilton, Bermuda, while Doha, a city in Qatar, the richest country on earth by GDP, ranks 157. Las Palmas, Spain, at 242 and Luanda, Angola, in fifth are two more surprises thrown out by the Cost of Living Index (COLI), a bi-annual ranking of the world’s cities from Numbeo.

So, with the above in mind, here are the four most expensive countries in the world for American expats and holidaymakers, using the most valuable resource on earth – coffee – as a yardstick.

währungskrise” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by twicepix


Swiss cities take five slots in the top ten of the COLI; namely, Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, and Lausanne. It costs $6.06 to buy a cappuccino in Bern, according to an infographic created by Couponbox, compared to $3.15 in New York. The Wall Street Journal indicates that the average monthly living cost in Zurich is $3,600 – not including rent, which is about $2,390 on its own. That’s nearly $6,000 a month to live in the country’s largest city.


While Denmark is only the eighth most expensive place in the world, down from sixth earlier in the year, it has the dubious honor of selling the second-most expensive cappuccino on the planet, at $5.84 for a cup in Copenhagen. It’s a bit of a shame, as food is one of the biggest draws of this tiny Scandinavian country, you might need a loan from Moneylender.dk to afford it. Denmark has 26 restaurants with Michelin stars, with all but six of them based in the capital.


Americans pining for the fjords are in for a shock – places eight, nine, ten, and twelve on the COLI belong to the Norwegian cities of Tromso, Trondheim, Bergen, and Oslo, respectively. It costs $9 for a beer in Norway, $7 for a gallon of milk, and almost $5 for a frothy coffee. In the case of the former, the high cost of food is simply because there’s no competition among supermarkets, with only three major brands for customers to choose from.

Square Melon” (CC BY 2.0) by edenpictures


Moving outside of Europe isn’t necessarily going to help you get a cheaper cup of Joe – it’ll cost you $3.90 for a cappuccino in Tokyo. Unsurprisingly, Japan ranks sixth on the COLI, behind Iceland. However, it’s arguably cultural things that drive up the cost of living, like small portion sizes and the tradition of giving fruit as a luxury gift. A gift-wrapped melon might set you back $87, for example. Alcohol is very expensive too.

As a closing point, let’s look at the least expensive coffees in the world. In Warsaw, Poland, you can pick up a cappuccino for $2.85 while a coffee in the Greek capital, Athens, costs just $3.07. Americans don’t have to go all that far for a cheap drink though, with outlets in Ottawa, Canada, selling a coffee for $3.12.