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The world’s most expensive cities

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.


Skyline of Singapore building at twilight

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently released their 2016 rankings for the most expensive cities in which to live and Singapore remains in first place (or last place, depending on how you look at it). The survey cites Singapore’s high transportation costs as the primary reason for the city’s lofty prices, noting that “It is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car.” And with its general transportation costs roughly 2.7 times higher than in New York, getting around in any fashion isn’t cheap.

But the gap between Singapore and its closest competitors appears to be closing. Zurich, Switzerland and Hong Kong are tied for second place, with Hong Kong in particular becoming a pricier locale. The Asian metropolis jumped seven spots in the last twelve months, indicating that it might take the top spot before next year’s report. Geneva, Switzerland comes in next, giving the relatively small European country half of the report’s top four entries.

It’s perhaps not surprising that New York claims the distinction as America’s most expensive city, coming in at seventh on the list after Paris and London. Los Angeles is the only other U.S. entry in the top ten and is in a three-way tie for eighth place with Copenhagen, Denmark and Seoul, South Korea.

Interestingly, the most expensive cities seem to share few commonalities. Population doesn’t seem to be a determining factor as Zurich, Geneva, and Copenhagen all have less than 400,000 people living there while the rest of the top ten are well into the millions. Location doesn’t necessarily tell us much either, as these cities are found in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, the latter of which is also home to some of the most densely populated but least expensive cities to live in.

Ultimately, what the study reveals is that the cost of living is not always the primary factor in determining where people will live. For those who choose to make their homes in these expensive locales, the value of doing so is greater than what they could save by going to a different city.

Value is an interesting concept, one inherently difficult to define because it often varies for each person. However, nothing reveals our priorities more. As a result, it’s one of the easier ways to take inventory of your life to see if your priorities are truly aligned with God’s.

Scripture is clear that there is nothing we should value more than our relationship with the Lord (Mark 8:35–37). Unfortunately, most of us don’t always live that way. The temptation to place other things ahead of our walk with God, especially if it seems like it would be just for a moment, is difficult to resist in large part because we don’t always recognize what we’re doing. That’s why it’s so important to stop and, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, take inventory of where we spend most of our time, money, and energy as those are the greatest indicators of what we value most.

So take some time today to ask God to help you understand his value in your life. Most of us know what it should be, but few of us truly live that way. However, our relationship with the Lord will never be as life-giving and abundant as he desires unless he is what we value most. Where does he rank on your list?