UBS Study Names World's 3 Most Expensive Cities

If you think London or New York are among the world's most expensive cities, keep guessing and get your checkbooks out (that is if you are travelling to one of the cities that take the top spot).

Zurich, Switzerland
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Zurich, Switzerland

Oslo, Zurich and Geneva top the rankings of the most expensive cities in the world, according to latest study compiled by UBS Wealth Management. In its study economists from UBS compared the prices and earnings in 73 cities worldwide for a basket of 122 goods and services. The three highest ranked cities are followed by equally famous pricey locations: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tokyo and Sydney. London doesn't appear in the rankingsuntil spot 15, down from 10th place last year. Price levels are the lowest in Delhi, Manila and Mumbai.

Zurich, Oslo and Sydney have traditionally claimed the title as most expensive cities for tourists and residents alike. The price levels are exacerbated by the massive appreciation of currencies in those respective countries. Since 2009, the dollar has lost 25 percent against the Swiss franc , while it has fallen by as much as 40 percent against the Australian dollar .

Rising incomes in Switzerland and Australia may shield residents from rising prices, but tourists are feeling the pain. As UBS points out: "for US tourists in Sydney, Zurich and other destinations, (...) they now see that the greenback isn’t quite what it used to be."

In Venezuela, high inflation and a currency peg are also leading to higher average prices. The opposite is true for cities in countries whose currency has depreciated. For instance, US cities which were surveyed now show lower price levels than in previous years, owing in large part to the depreciation of the US dollar , according to the study. New York City has fallen to the 14th place, when excluding property rental.

But there is some consolation—at least for breadwinners in Zurich and Sydney. The study shows that employees in Zurich, Sydney and Luxembourg enjoy the highest purchasing power based on hourly wages. The cities with the lowest purchasing power are Manila, Nairobi and Jakarta.