Istanbul drops in rankings on most expensive cities list
Tourists and locals who buy a ticket for the metro in Istanbul in September 2018. (Alamy Stock Photo)
The cost of living in Istanbul has fallen sharply over the last year, taking the city to 120th place in a list of most expensive cities around the world, down from 44th, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) bi-annual survey of 133 cities released on March 19.
A city’s drop in the index does not necessarily mean life automatically gets cheaper for people living there, as prices adjust to inflation often quicker than wages, said Güneş Cansız of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank.
“The cost of living in Istanbul, for example, might seem to have decreased, but since household expenses have increased, this has no positive reflection on the daily life of Istanbulites,” said Cansız, director at WRI’s Turkey Sustainable Cities program.
Istanbul kept its place as the most populous in the country and its population has grown by 907,257 people in five years, according to a recent study by the United Nations Population Fund.
With a population of 15 million residents, Istanbul is more crowded than 131 countries, including Belgium, Greece, Austria and Switzerland.
Paris and Hong Kong for the first time joined Singapore as the world’s most expensive cities to live in, the EIU study also revealed, with utilities and transport driving up the cost of living.
Zurich, Geneva and Japan’s Osaka trailed closely, with emerging market cities like Moscow plummeting down the ranking due to high inflation and currency depreciation
It was the first time in more than 30 years that three cities shared the top spot, a sign that pricey global cities are growing more alike, said the report’s author, Roxana Slavcheva.
“Converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities are a testament to globalization and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns,” she said in a statement.
“Even in locations where shopping for groceries may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive up overall cost of living,” she said.
For the EIU survey researchers compared the cost of more than 150 items such as cars, food, rent, transport and clothing in 133 cities.
A woman’s haircut was about $15 in Bangalore, India, compared to $210 in New York, for example, while a bottle of beer was about half a dollar in Lagos, Nigeria, and more than $3 in Zurich.
Political turmoil in Venezuela plummeted Caracas to the bottom of the ranking, followed by Damascus, Syria, with Karachi, Pakistan, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and New Delhi also featuring among the 10 cheapest cities.