Singapore is both a city and country located in south east Asia. The city of just under 5 million people takes up the majority of the country of 710km2, leading to an extremely high population density of almost 7000 people per km2. It is located on a small island, which lies in one of the busiest waterways in the world which connects east Asia with south Asia, Africa and Europe. The city first started to grow to prominence under European rule because of it's high strategic importance and the city has continued to grow in stature since independence. The city has an extremely strong economy based it's business friendly policies leading to many international corporations having a base here. There is also a thriving high-tech manufacturing part to the economy, and the Port of Singapore is one of the world's busiest ports, particularly in the transhipment of goods. This thriving economy combined with lack of space for expansion leads to Singapore being the tenth most expensive city in the world to live.
Geneva is a city nestled between Lake Geneva and The Alps in Switzerland. Although most of the city is in Switzerland, due to the high cost of living in the city proper many people commute in from nearby France. Geneva is famous for being the location where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which govern the handling of prisoners of war. Geneva is also home to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and many United Nations departments are also based here. In addition to being a major city in humanitarian terms, Geneva is also the 6th most important financial centre in the world. All of these factors, along with the fantastic location alongside Lake Geneva and a policy to preserve the city, leads to it having the ninth highest cost of living worldwide.
Frankfurt is joint seventh most expensive city to live in along with Helsinki. Frankfurt is a city in Germany, and is located on the Main River, which leads to it's full name Frankfurt am Main. When Germany was divided, it was located in west Germany, and so with berlin isolated became the economic powerhouse of west Germany, and upon re-unification it retained this position. It is the largest financial centre of mainland Europe, and both the European and German central banks are located here, as well as the Frankfurt stock exchange which is one of the biggest in the world. All of this wealth leads to Frankfurt being the joint seventh most expensive city in the world to live in.
In terms of the cost of living, Helsinki is joint seventh most expensive along with Frankfurt. Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, and is located in the far south of the country next to the Gulf of Finland. Despite being at the south of Finland, it is still a very northerly city and so can get very cold in the winter. Helsinki is the economic centre of the Finnish economy, and this partly explains the high cost of living. Helsinki has traditionally had a large shipbuilding industry and this continues to this day, although there are now also more hi-tech industries such as Nokia which is located just outside the city. Along with other Scandinavian countries, Finland has a relatively high tax rate, and this combined with the large amount of wealth generated is probably what results in Helsinki having the joint seventh highest cost of living in the world.
Located in Switzerland, Zurich comes sixth on the list of most expensive cities in the world by living costs. Zurich is to Switzerland like New York is to the USA, it is the commercial capital of the country but not the political one. Zurich is home to many top educational institutions, and this helps ensure that the top minds in Switzerland and further afield come to live in Zurich, and it is likely that many of these will spend at least some of their working lives here. A large proportion of the Swiss economy is based on financial services, and many multinational companies such as UBS, Zurich Financial Services and Credit Suisse are based here. In addition, the population of Zurich is very diverse, and this potentially explains why many international companies, such as IBM, Google and Microsoft have facilities here. All of these factors mean that Zurich has a very strong economy, and this results in the 6th highest cost of living worldwide.
The city in the world with the fifth highest cost of living is the Norwegian capital city of Oslo. Oslo is Norway's biggest city, both economically and by population. Norway is one of the most developed countries in the world, with a large income from a variety of sources. These include the large offshore oil and gas reserves, maritime engineering and insurance and tourism. Norway has one of the highest average wages for a country in the world, and Oslo has an average even higher than this national average. Due to the high average wage, linked to the fact that many basic commodities such as many foodstuffs are imported, leads to an extremely high cost of living. This is further exaggerated by the very high Norwegian tax rate. Finally there is large public opposition to both the development of the city itself with high-rise buildings and the surrounding areas, resulting in space becoming at a premium. All of these factors combine to make Oslo the fifth most expensive city in the world in which to live.
Copenhagen is the fourth most expensive city in the world in which to live. Like Helsinki and Oslo which also appear in the top 10 most expensive cities in terms of cost of living, it too is the capital city of a Scandinavian country. In Copenhagen's case the country is Denmark, and like both Oslo and Helsinki, it is not only the political capital city but the dominant city in the country economically and culturally as well. Copenhagen is the location for many international head and regional offices, such as Maersk which has head offices in Copenhagen and Microsoft, for which Copenhagen provides the regional headquarters. Recently Copenhagen, and Denmark as a whole has seen massive growth, both domestically and internationally. For example, the largest wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, is a Danish company. All of these factors combined lead to Copenhagen having an extremely strong economy, with the corresponding high wages, which results in it being in fourth position on the list of most expensive cities in terms of cost of living.
Paris is the capital city of France, and comes in third on the list of most expensive cities in the world. The city of Paris is a rather compact area, although the metropolitan area is much larger and includes many satellite towns. The central area of Paris, and the area with which this cost of living list deals with, refers solely to the city of Paris. Paris is famous for tourism, and whilst this generates a large amount of money for the local economy, it does lead to demands for less development of the older parts of the city. As such this leads to less modern space for both commerce and residences than many other cities, and this pushes up the cost of living. Another factor in the high cost of living is the strong economy of the Paris region, and therefore high average wage. Major industries in Paris include the previously mentioned tourism, as well as finance and high-tech manufacturing. All of these factors combine to give the city of Paris the third highest cost of living worldwide.
The second highest cost of living is for two linked cities in Japan - Osaka and Kobe. As with many Japanese cities, both of these have an extremely high population density, which leads to expensive housing and other costs. Both cities are very large with populations in excess of 1 million. In each city there are a number of different industries, with many large multinational companies having their headquarters in the respective cities. Examples of these include Mitsubishi, Mizuno, Panasonic, Sanyo and Sharp. There is also a relatively large financial industry in both cities, leading to high wages. The high cost of land, as well as high wages, combine to make the Osaka-Kobe region the second most expensive region in the world in which to live.
The Japanese capital city of Tokyo comes first on the list of most expensive cities to live in. In addition to being the top of the list of cities with the highest living costs, it is also the centre of the world's largest metropolitan area by both population and economy. This is probably what makes it the most expensive city in the world in which to live. The Tokyo stock exchange is one of the world's largest, and is the largest one in Japan. Many international companies are based in Tokyo, and yet more have regional offices in the city which leads to a lot of highly paid jobs. In addition, the large size of the population leads to massive demand for space, and this is further exacerbated by the fact that Tokyo is surrounded by the Bay of Tokyo and a lot of steep hills and mountains. All of these factors combine to make Tokyo the most expensive city in the world in which to live.