Where you choose to live makes a huge difference in the price you pay for real estate, with price tags of the most expensive real estate cities in the world influenced by varying combinations of applicable factors that may include -
- The effects caused by the basic economic principle of supply and demand.
- The overall economic health of the city or overall region.
- Proximity to -
- Work opportunities.
- Future development plans.
- Transportation hubs.
- Leisure activities and other amenities.
- The cost of borrowing money - i.e., lower interest rates can make borrowing more affordable, potentially influencing both the demand and prices for the most expensive cities to buy a house.
Additionally, external events, such as political instability or natural disasters, may also impact the prices of the top 20 most expensive real estate cities in the world.
It's important to note that the above-noted factors often interact with each other in complex ways, and the importance of each relevant factor varies depending on the specific city and its unique offerings and location.
While there are a variety of ways to measure the cost of living for a particular location or city, among the most common ways to compare real estate is to compare –
- The property’s price per square foot (in the United States) or price per square meter for those countries that follow the metric system.
- The median price of a home in the location.
Fortunately, in the digital real estate landscape, finding the price per square foot or meter (or median price) is relatively simple and often just a quick internet search away. Some of the real estate and business-related websites used to curate our list of the most expensive real estate cities in the world –
- World Economic Forum
- Urban Land Institute’s 2023 APAC Home Attainment Index
- The Economic Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Report
- Global Property Guide
- Knight Frank - Prime Global Cities Index
1. Monte Carlo, Monaco
- Median Price (2023) - $5.4 million (US)
- $4,738/Square Foot or $51,000/Square Meter
This small European principality, located on the Mediterranean Sea has been a haven for the rich and famous for decades. The area is designed for the ultra-rich, offering incredible luxury, access to yachts, gambling, and a friendly tax structure. Many of the ultra-rich own properties in Monaco, either as their primary residence or as a second home.
2. Basel, Switzerland
- Median Price (2023) - $2.3 million (US)
- $922/Square Foot or $9,929/Square Meter
This city on the Rhine River is considered the country’s cultural capital - in northern and western Switzerland is the country’s 3rd most populous. The city is known for its many and varied museums and the birthplace of tennis legend/billionaire - Roger Federer.
3. Palm Beach, FL
- Median Price (2023) – $1.7 million (US)
- $851/Square Foot or $9,160/Square Meter
An hour north of Miami is some of the most expensive real estate along the eastern seaboard – the homes on the barrier island known as Palm Beach. The history, exclusivity, and simple lack of available space and land make this real estate – surrounded by the Lake Worth Lagoon/Intracoastal on the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the East.
4. San Francisco, California
- Median Price (2023) - $1.3 million (US)
- $995/Square Foot
San Francisco has always been pricey as the business, cultural, and commercial epicenter of Northern California. However, in this densely populated large city, even with a small dip in prices, the price per square foot in the City by the Bay is nearly $1,000. The city is known for its hills, with more than fifty located within the city’s limits.
5. Los Angeles, California
- Median Price (2023) - $1.2 million (US)
- $721/Square Foot
Los Angeles is the state’s largest city and is one of the most expensive cities to live in – with a year-over-year price increase of more than 21%. The City of Angels, which offers a bit of a Mediterranean climate that is characterized by mild winters and dry summers, provides its residents and visitors something for everything - from some of the most expensive homes along the Pacific Coast to the home of most U.S.-based movie studios.
6. Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island
- Median Price (2023) - $1.254 million (US)
- $2,800/Square Foot
Hong Kong ranks first among the world’s most expensive cities thanks to its high-density population, high demand for its tax-friendly economy, and scarce land that is government-controlled. Hong Kong offers numerous amenities, including nightlife and other attractions, which also contribute to the expensive cost of living.
7. Zurich, Switzerland
- Median Price (2023) - $1.4 million (US)
- $1,764/Square Foot or $18,985/Square Meter
Zurich is a beautiful city that ranks among the world’s most expensive cities as it offers a great location near Lake Zurich and is home to one of the largest global financial markets. Zurich also offers waterfront promenades with high-end shopping, decadent chocolate, and a great job market, making it a hugely competitive real estate market.
8. Singapore, Singapore
- Median Price (2023) - $1.2 million (US)
- $1,063/Square Foot or $11,442/Square Meter
The population of Singapore is continuing to rise despite its limited land; however, builders and developers are struggling to meet an ever-increasing demand and competition for properties in Singapore. This is significantly impacting the price of real estate and has kept Singapore among the top 20 most expensive real estate cities in the world – eighty percent of the previous decade.
9. Tel Aviv, Israel
- Median Price (2023) - $1.13 million (US)
- $1,143/Square Foot or $12,300/Square Meter
Despite political unrest, the limited supply of properties and low construction in this Israeli city has caused Tel Aviv to rank among the most expensive real estate cities in the world. The city is tourist-friendly, offering world-class cuisine and stunning beaches, with entertainment options that have something for everyone.
10. Toronto, Canada
- Median Price (2023) - $1.1 million (US)
- $1,411/Square Foot for new construction or $15,188/Square Meter
Toronto is a diverse and inclusive city where it is possible to find work in almost any industry. The city, which has essentially run out of developable land, offers a fantastic social life with many things to see and do. This makes this city a desirable place to live for a wide range of people, but it is also one of the reasons why it is so expensive to buy a property there.
11. Vienna, Austria
- Median Price (2023) - $900,000 (US)
- $2,031/Square Foot or $21,861/Square Meter
Over the previous six years, Vienna, the capital city of Austria, has seen property prices rise. However, like most urban real estate markets, prices are adjusting to current conditions. The city, which offers incredible history and beauty and is host to many international organizations, is still quite pricey and out of reach for many.
12. Tokyo, Japan
- Median Price (2023) - $865,000 (US)
- $465/Square Foot or $4,902/Square Meter
If you want to own a property in Japan’s capital city, you will find some of the most expensive cities to buy real estate in due to scarce land and densely populated areas. In addition, foreign investors are taking advantage of a weak Yen – now at a three-decade low. New apartments in Tokyo, according to some reports, have hit a 32-year high
13. Sydney, Australia
- Median Price (2023) - $858,000 (US)
- $929/Square Foot or $10,000/Square Meter
The wonderful climate, fantastic work opportunities, the culture, and the lifestyle make Sydney a popular place to live – making it competitive and expensive. One reason given by experts for the high prices in Sydney, the most populous city in Australia, is the government’s commitment to urban containment policies.
14. New York, NY, USA
- Median Price (2023) - $799,000 (US)
- $1,320/Square Foot
The Big Apple real estate has been trending upward after a few pandemic rough years for the market. New York City has always offered a great vibe, tremendous cultural opportunities, unique shopping locations, transportation hubs to domestic/international locations, a diverse job market, and more. Many NYC real estate investors have homes elsewhere to escape the city’s summer heat.
15. Nassau, Bahamas
- Median Price (2023) – 721,340 (US)
- $581/Square Foot
Nassau is this island nation’s largest and capital city. Many rich people have second homes in this gorgeous tropical haven in the Caribbean Ocean – just a short plane ride from North, Central, and South American locations.
16. London, United Kingdom
- Median Price (2023) - $707,000 (US)
- $1,376/Square Foot or $14,815/Square Meter
London is an extremely desirable place to live as it is the country’s cultural center, home to many desirable attractions, and the capital city. Certain areas have hit nearly $1,900 per square foot. Ironically, even though demand for properties in London remains strong, an unusual number of houses and apartments often remain empty for most of the year as most properties are owned by those who travel the world to their many residences.
17. Miami, FL
- Median Price (2023) – $660,000+ (US)
- $510 /Square Foot
Bucking all real estate trends, Miami and other South Florida locations have been some of the hottest real estate markets since the pandemic began – with nearby West Palm Beach being billed as Wall Street South. Foreign money has always influenced this market, which has begun to push retirees and locals to other, more affordable locations.
18. Honolulu, HI
- Median Price (2023) - $639,550 (US)
- $702/Square Foot
Honolulu has always been a tropical haven – far from civilization – smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And it has always been pricey to visit and live there. And while prices have moderated from 2022, this state, made up of an archipelago, offers some of the most beautiful and scenic locations, roads, and beaches.
19. Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Median Price (2023) - $615,000 (US)
- $686/Square Foot or $7,381/Square Meter
In the last decade, Amsterdam property prices soared. However, they are now stabilizing. Like many other major cities across the globe, the high demand for properties, the low availability of homes, and a lack of development are the biggest causes of such high real estate prices.
20. Paris, France
- Median Price (2023) - $599,000 (US)
- $929/Square Foot or $10,000/Square Meter
The City of Love, an iconic location that is famous for fine dining and art galleries, is among the most expensive cities in which to buy a house. The job market is strong, and Paris is a cultural mecca within easy reach of many other European locations. Certain Parisian neighborhoods are even more expensive, whereas more affordable properties can be found in the outer suburbs surrounding the city.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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