The Icelandic capital Reykjavik has a gorgeous natural backdrop and colourful houses
The Icelandic capital Reykjavik has a gorgeous natural backdrop and colourful houses

The 18 most expensive cities to live in western Europe

Will Martin
Tuesday 21 March 2017 15:58

The Economist Intelligence Unit on Tuesday released its annual Cost of Living report, which examines the world's most and least expensive cities by looking at factors including food costs, fuel costs, and salaries.

Cities are ranked in comparison with New York City. New York receives an index score of 100, with cities more expensive than the Big Apple scoring over 100, and those that are cheaper getting less than 100. This is the so-called WCOL (World Cost of Living) Index.

In recent years, the cost of living in Asia's hub cities like Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong have surged — Asian cities now make up five of the top six most expensive places on Earth.

However, European cities remain near the top of the list. We've ranked the most costly cities in western Europe below. London, traditionally one of the most expensive places on the continent, has seen its cost fall significantly since Britain voted to leave the EU.

"The devaluation of the British pound in 2016 prompted a sharp fall in the relative cost of living in UK cities," the EIU's report notes.

Check out the full list below.

T=16. Brussels, Belgium — The Belgian capital scored 81 in the WCOL index, and ranked 39th overall in the world.

T=16. Barcelona, Spain — With a reputation as a hub for tourists, Barcelona is often seen as a cheap holiday destination. However, living in the city is pricey. It has fallen one place in this year's overall ranking though.

T=16. Dusseldorf, Germany — In a recent ranking, Dusseldorf was rated the 6th best city in the world in terms of quality of life. That quality comes at a price however, and the city is one of Europe's most expensive.

T=14. Rome, Italy — Italy's capital drops one place in the EIU's overall ranking in 2017, and is the 35th most expensive city in the world.

T=14. Munich, Germany — Another city close to the top of several quality of life rankings, Munich is one of Germany's most powerful cities, with a cost of living to match.

13. Hamburg, Germany — Hamburg is not only the second largest city in Germany, but is also home to its largest port, making it a hub for trade. That helps push up the cost of living.

Hamburg, Germany

12. Milan, Italy — Italy's financial centre is more expensive than its capital, ranking as the 29th most expensive city on the planet, according to the EIU. That's a fall of one place from 2016.

11. Dublin, Ireland — Dublin has been in the spotlight since Britain voted to leave the EU, with many EU companies thought to be considering moving staff from London to the Irish capital.

10. London, United Kingdom — "London, the UK capital, fell by 18 places from 6th last year to 24th—its lowest position in the cost of living ranking in 20 years," the report says. It noted that "the devaluation of the British pound in 2016 prompted a sharp fall in the relative cost of living in UK cities."

9. Frankfurt, Germany — Frankfurt is Germany's financial centre, with a huge number of very wealthy people living in the city. It is Germany's most expensive city, according to the EIU.

8. Vienna, Austria — Falling three places from last year, Austria's capital is the 21st most expensive city on earth, the EIU says, scoring 91 points on the WCOL index.

A traditional Fiaker horse carriage passes the imperial Schoenbrunn palace in Vienna, Austria

T=6. Reykjavik, Iceland — Reykjavik is home to just 120,000 people, making up roughly one-third of Iceland's entire population. As a nation with little in the way of natural resources, most consumables must be imported, pushing up prices.

T=6. Helsinki, Finland — Finland's capital climbs one place from its position in the EIU's 2016 ranking, with a WCOL index score of 92.

5. Oslo, Norway — Norway's capital has a reputation for being expensive, and the EIU's ranking confirms this. It scored 99 on WCOL index, and climbed two places from the 2016 list.

(Getty Images

4. Copenhagen, Denmark — Copenhagen's high position on this list is largely down "to relatively high transport and personal care costs," the EIU says.

T=2. Paris, France — "The French capital remains structurally extremely expensive to live in, with only alcohol and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities," the EIU's report notes.

T=2. Geneva, Switzerland — The second most expensive city in western Europe is also the second most expensive in Switzerland. However, in 2017, prices for many goods have fallen, with a loaf of bread falling from an average of $7.02 in 2016, to $6.62 today.

1. Zurich, Switzerland — Zurich remains the most expensive city in Europe for another year according to the EIU, although it notes that "the relative cost of living has fallen slightly."

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