World’s most expensive cities? Curiously, Harare and Port au Prince too

by Rashmee

Posted on March 8, 2014



10 Haitian gourdes is roughly 25 cents
10 Haitian gourdes is roughly 25 cents

Now that Singapore has been anointed the world’s most expensive city by the Economist Intelligence Unit, consider the rationale, as described by Adam Withnall in The Independent:

–       It was placed ahead of 130 other cities based on more than 400 different price indicators, from basic groceries to the cost of heating

–       It’s the most expensive place in the world to buy clothes, relies heavily on imported goods

Funnily  (and I mean funny-weird) there might be a lot of unlikely candidates that fit into the last category. Cities where the cost of living is high (for those who can afford it) because they rely heavily on imported goods. Cities where the cost of living is high for those who can’t afford pretty much anything.

Port au Prince can be expensive for those with money in their pockets and a shopping list that includes, say, apples, yoghurt, dog food, glass cleaner, a ruled notebook, a shower curtain, a rolling ergonomic office chair.

But for the most part, the Haitian capital’s estimated 3.5 million residents can’t afford any of that.

As also, fuel, oil, milk, the luxury of cooking a meal at home. Instead, it’s a Styrofoam box with rice and beans, a banan peze or two and may be a smidgen of pikliz. For them too, Port au Prince is astronomically expensive. It’s pretty much what Michael Hobbes said about Zimbabwe in the New Republic: Prices are shockingly high in Africa’s most impoverished country. So for expensive cities, money talks. As Mr Hobbes points out, you can always tell from the money. The currency bills in Zimbabwe are filthy. As with Harare, so it is with Port au Prince, Haiti. The bills are pungent, soft and smelly with being passed back and forth over and over.

Jack Kerouac
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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