Berlin tops Munich in most expensive international cities ranking

Berlin tops Munich in most expensive international cities ranking

Berlin has surpassed Munich among the 50 most expensive cities in the world according to the recent Cost of Living City Ranking by Mercer. Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Stuttgart also made it into the top 100.

2024 Cost of Living City Ranking by Mercer

As part of the 2024 report, 226 cities from five continents were rated and ranked by Mercer by their cost of living. To do this the prices of 200 items, from housing and public transport to food, consumer goods and entertainment, were compared - the data itself was taken in March 2024. 

To standardise the report, each city’s costs were compared against the benchmark of New York City, and currencies were measured against the US dollar. Mercer argued that the ranking mainly serves to provide employers with essential information when designing salaries and work contracts for remote workers.

While Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich rounded out the top three most expensive cities, Switzerland dominated the top five, with Geneva, Basel and Bern taking spots four to six. Germany's southern neighbour is currently beset with a rental housing shortage that has Zurich as its epicentre. When it comes to buying, a report from the Iazi consultancy firm in November 2023 estimated that a couple or individual would have to earn 525.000 francs a year (540.000 euros) before being able to apply for a mortgage for a single-family home in Zurich - along with a down payment of over 600.000 francs.

Berlin named 31st most expensive city in the world

Rising six places, the ranking named the German capital as the 31st most expensive city in the world in 2024. Prices have exploded in the Hauptstadt in the past five years; while the worst housing crisis in 20 years has hit nationwide, locals in Berlin are particularly affected by landlord price hikes. According to 2024 figures, an estimated 75 percent of Berliners pay illegally high rent.

There are similar scenes in Frankfurt and Munich, which Mercer named the 35th and 38th most expensive cities in the world respectively. In the ranking, the largest city in Hesse rose 13 places, while Munich maintained standing.

According to an assessment by the property portal Immowelt published in early 2023, families in Munich have to fork out 823.590 euros to buy a 90-square-metre property. Paid out by a family of three with one child, with one adult working full-time hours and the other working part-time, monthly payments of 4.255 euros (according to interest rates in early 2023) would snatch a staggering 88 percent of an average family’s monthly income.

10 most expensive cities on Earth for 2024

In all, here are the most expensive cities to live in, according to Mercer:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland
  6. Bern, Switzerland
  7. New York City, United States
  8. London, United Kingdom
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Los Angeles, United States

For more information, check out the official study.

Thumb image credit: Sandra Sev Jarocka /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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