Everyone knows that it is more expensive to live in some cities and countries than others. But one question is just how much more expensive are these cities and countries relative to others? NYC is famously expensive but is it the most expensive in the United States? How does it compare to the rest of the world?

Despite New York City being one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is also possible to visit the Big Apple on a budget. Perhaps fittingly, until recently New York City had the most expensive apartment in the United States. The Mark Hotel Penthouse sets one back by $75,000 a night.


Things To Know About The Cost Of Living Around The World

According to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living index released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Tel Aviv in Israel is the most expensive city in the world.

  • Tel Aviv: The Most Expensive City In The World in 2021

According to the report, the top ten most expensive cities are Tel Aviv, Israel; Paris, France; Singapore, Zurich, Switerzland; Hong Kong, New York City, Geneva, Switzerland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Los Angeles.

Tel Aviv got a score of 106 while NYC is the benchmark of 100.

  • NYC: Ranked 6th Most Expensive City in 2021

It should be noted that it is very difficult to compare expenses around the world. It requires one to level the currencies (into USD) and to assume a similar standard of living and way of life everywhere. But this just doesn't correspond to the real world.

Examples of the complications are that if the currency of Turkey was to fall 25% in a week, then everything in that country would be 25% cheaper (as one is buying with US dollars). But inside that country, every little has changed until inflation starts to climb up.

  • Currency Movements: Currency Movements Can Have A Big Effect, even if the Prices Haven't Actually Changed In that Country

The costs are not always the same. Cars are very expensive in Singapore, but one does not need one. The public transport is excellent and most people there don't need or own one. But in Los Angeles, it would be difficult without a car.

  • Lifestyles: Lifestyles (and the Costs of Them) Are Different in Different Cities And Countries

The black market and other informal markets. Often the real prices are significantly different from the official prices. One may see that a restaurant dinner in Africa may cost around $10.00 but unofficial street vendors (if one is happy with that) may charge only $1.00. The black market rate of Turkmenistan's currency - the Manat - is about 5x different from the black market rate, so estimates of costs may exaggerate the price by as much as 5x.

  • Real-World Costs: The Realworld Costs May Be Significantly Different

Still, with all that said, comparisons are not useless (just interpret them for what they are).

Related: These Are The Most Expensive Places To Live In The US

NYC is Expensive

But what is clear is that NYC is expensive - really expensive and the most expensive in the United States (it is easier to compare cities within the USA).

According to numeo.com, the cost of living in New York City for a family of four is $5,007 per month without rent. For an individual, it is around $1,364 per month without rent.

  • Cost For Family of Four: $5,007 (Without Rent)
  • Cost of An Individual: $1,364 (Without Rent)

Rent Per Month: The Big Apple is of course super expensive when it comes to renting as well. The cost of rent in NYC is typically more expensive than any other major American city (and one of the most expensive in the world).

  • 1 Bedroom Apartment: $3,090 (In City Center) (Range $2,100 to $4,000)
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment: $2,172 (Outside of Center) (Range $1,750 to 3,000)

The breakdown of expenses in the Big Apple are:

Restaurants And Dining:

  • Meal At Inexpensive Restaurant: $20.00 (Range $10.00-37.00)
  • McMeal At McDonald's: $9.34
  • Domestic Beer: $8.00 (0.5 Liter Draught) (Range $4.00 to 11.00)
  • Regular Cappuccino: $4.98 (Range $3.00 to 7.00)
  • 0.33 Liter Boot of Water: $1.91 (Range $1.38 to 3.00)
  • Regular Milk: $1.19 - One Liter
  • 20 Pack of Smokes: $15.00 (Range $14.00 to 20.00)


  • One-Way Ticket Local Transport: $2.75
  • Monthly Pass: $129.50
  • Taxi Start: $3.65 (Range $2.50 to 6.00)
  • Taxi 1 KM: $1.86 (Range $1.55 to 3.42)
  • Gasoline (1 Liter): $0.81

Related: Save Vs Splurge: A Weekend In New York City

New Yorker's Income

Of course, New Yorkers have high salaries to pay for it all as they have one of the highest per capita incomes of the most populated cities in the United States in 2019 according to Statsita.com.

But their incomes are far from the highest - that status goes to San Francisco City. According to Statista the top five cities with the highest per capita incomes in the USA are:

  • San Francisco City: $75,084
  • Seattle City: $65,205
  • Washington City, DC: $59,808
  • San Jose City: $51,310
  • Boston: $48,978

New York City comes in at number 9 with a per capita income of $43,046.

So is NYC expensive - yup. It is the most expensive in the world? Not according to the latest list but the real world is much more complicated.

Next: How To Enjoy food In NYC For Less Than $20 A Day