Toronto and Montreal among world’s most expensive cities: new report

Toronto and Montreal are among some of the world's costliest cities. Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Living in Toronto is almost as expensive as living in Paris, and Montreal isn’t far behind. But it’s New York City, Zurich and Geneva that are three of the world’s costliest cities. That’s according to UBS’s latest Prices and Earnings survey, which examines prices, wages and earners’ purchasing power in 71 cities worldwide.

So where can you get the most bang for your buck? Well, it depends on what you’re after.

Time off

If work-life balance is most important to you, Paris is the place to be. Workers there put in around 35 hours per week, thanks to new government regulations, and enjoy an average of 29 days of paid vacation per year. Those who work in Hong Kong put in over 1,000 more hours than their Paris counterparts and only get 17 days paid vacation days.

Other cities where you can be paid to take a month or more off include Dubai and Rio de Janeiro (30 days), Dublin and São Paolo (31), Luxembourg (32), and Manama (34).

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In some places, legal holidays can make a big difference. Bangkok, for example, averages only nine days of paid vacation but has 16 days of legal holidays so that brings the total of time off to around 25 days or five weeks. São Paulo has the highest combined amount of time off, with an average of 50 days, or around 10 weeks.

READ MORE: Are unlimited holidays the key to work-life balance?

Employees get an average of 18 paid vacation days in Montreal and 19 in Toronto. Those are the two Canadian cities on the list.

WATCH: Toronto may be expensive, but the majority of people surveyed last year said it’s worth it. Alan Carter reports. 

Of the American cities in the study, the average worker in Chicago and Los Angeles has the least amount of paid vacation a year (14 days).

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On average, though, the survey states that a typical workweek around the world is over 40 hours, with over 4.5 weeks of paid vacation.


Looking to make a lot of dough? Head to Zurich, Geneva or Luxembourg.

Montreal comes in 11th on wage levels list, behind L.A. and Chicago. Toronto is in 15th place, behind London and Brussels.

In Nairobi, Jakarta and Kiev, the lowest-ranked cities, workers receive only around five per cent of average gross earnings in Zurich.

Cost of living

Zurich is the most expensive city in the survey, with a cost of living that’s 185 per cent higher than that of Kiev, the least expensive city on the list. Zurich residents have to pay four-and-a-half times more for the food than those in Kiev.

READ MORE: Cost of living, economy among most important issues in upcoming election, says new poll

Fun fact: the price of a haircut is most expensive in Oslo and 20 times higher than in Jakarta, which is the cheapest place to get your locks tended to.

Canadian cities like Vancouver and Calgary are notorious for their high cost of living. However, they were not included in the UBS index, which has been published every three years since 1971.

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Here are some more highlights:

You can read the full report below.


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