Our ideas about the world’s most expensive cities are wrong.
City view of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit: Christophe Apatie/EyeEm/Getty Images

Often when we consider cities that are “playgrounds for the rich,” we think of places like New York City and San Francisco. However, according to the results of Bloomberg’s Global City Housing Affordability Index, the average monthly rent in some unexpected cities makes American metropolises look like freebies.

Caracas, Kiev, and Hanoi are the least affordable cities in the world for their average resident. Although the average rent may seem cheap ($416, $609, and $728, respectively), the average monthly housing cost is more than 300 percent what the average citizen earns.

London is the least affordable city in Western Europe — but it doesn’t even make the list for the top 10 least affordable. That list is rounded out by Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing and Shanghai.

However, none of the 105 cities that Bloomberg measured would be considered affordable. The average monthly-take home pay in all of these cities wouldn’t cover the cost of buying a 1,000-square-foot space or renting a three-bedroom home (based on the general rule of thumb that a person should spend 28 percent of their income on housing).

The most affordable city in the world is Riyadh, where the monthly housing cost there is 31 percent of what the average citizen brings home.

North American cities are actually among the most affordable in the world. Runners up include Houston, Philadelphia, Calgary, Chicago, and Ottawa.