Key highlights from our 2018 ranking

This year our Prices and Earnings study covers 77 cities across the globe. For each city we measure how much people earn and how much the items in their average shopping basket cost, and compare the two to come up with our purchasing power index. Put simply, it's a ranking of earnings versus prices. The higher the city is in the ranking, the more people in that city can afford.

The map above gives an overview of the highest ranking city in each region, and you can explore the the full 2018 ranking here.

We’ve also checked how this year's ranking compares to our last edition in 2015. Read on for our highlights of the biggest changes over the last three years.*

Biggest moves up


2015Rank 37
2018Rank 19

The highest climber on our list, up 18 spots from three years ago. The capital of Qatar is now in the top twenty.


2015Rank 27
2018Rank 14

Another Middle Eastern powerhouse, Dubai has risen 13 spots since our 2015 ranking. And while it's one of the most expensive expat destinations, it's pretty affordable when it comes to millennial must-haves.


2015Rank 41
2018Rank 30

The Danish capital climbed 11 spots in terms of purchasing power, the highest of any Western European city, but a cup of coffee in one of its stylish cafes will still cost you a small fortune.


2015Rank 17
2018Rank 8

Climbing less spots than its Middle Eastern neighbors, the capital of Bahrain nevertheless broke into the Top 10 this year.


2015Rank 16
2018Rank 7

Toronto recorded the biggest climb among North American cities, rising nine spots to break into the top 10, landing 7th on the list in 2018. Read how much it costs to be an expat here or what you'd pay for millennial favorites like jeans, sneakers or avocados.


2015Rank 34
2018Rank 26

Up 8 spots, Taipei recorded the biggest climb in Asia in 2018, landing in 26th spot. See how it compares to its regional neighbors.

No change


2015Rank 6
2018Rank 6

The windy city retained its 6th spot in 2018, coming in ahead of New York (10th on our list).

Biggest moves down


2015Rank 22
2018Rank 41

Down 19 spots since 2015, Brussels recorded the biggest drop in Western Europe, and globally, on our list. It can also be a surprisingly expensive expat destination.


2015Rank 47
2018Rank 65

Istanbul dropped 19 points, landing at number 65 this year.


2015Rank 7
2018Rank 25

The capital of Cyprus fell 18 points from its top ten position in 2015.


2015Rank 44
2018Rank 58

Plummeting 13 spots, Slovakia's capital registered the biggest fall in purchasing power among the Eastern European cities on our list.

Buenos Aires

2015Rank 55
2018Rank 65

Dropping nine spots and ranking the lowest among the South American cities on our list, Buenos Aires is nevertheless a great expat destination, though if you're thinking of getting an iPhone, you'd probably want to buy it elsewhere.


2015Rank 25
2018Rank 33

The French capital slid 8 spots from its 2015 ranking, but it's still a pretty great destination for a dinner or a night out.


2015Rank 67
2018Rank 76

Cairo dropped 11 spots to become the third lowest ranked city in 2018, but it finds a spot on our '7 prices that will surprise' you list.


2015Rank 36
2018Rank 43

The South African city has fallen 7 spots since 2015, but remains one of the most expensive places to be a millennial.

*Some cities have benefited from a stronger currency relative to our reference, the US dollar. In others the economy has been booming so workers have been earning more while prices have remained steady. In some cases, much needed political reform has not been carried out, causing the city to fall in the rankings. Most of the time, though, numerous factors contribute to the change.

Note: all rankings are based on Net Annual Income.

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