Discover the Top 5 Most Expensive Countries in Asia

Tel Aviv Skyline.
RudyBalasko/ via Getty Images

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: January 12, 2024

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There are plenty of amazing spots in Asia to visit. Many have a rich history as well as a culture of innovation and growth. You can visit and even live in these places on any budget but some are known for a high cost of living. When looking at how expensive each country is, we looked at housing costs as well as GDP or Gross Domestic Product. Because housing is one of the highest expenses most people have, it can be helpful to look at when considering how expensive a place is to live. GDP is a good indicator of the overall economy of the country. It refers to the monetary value of the goods and services produced by businesses in that country. Keep reading to learn about the most expensive countries in Asia and some interesting facts about each of these high-cost nations.

1. Israel

Aerial  sun set view of Mediterranean Seashore of Tel Aviv,  Israel.

Much of the business and economic growth in Israel is centered in major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the country’s capital.

The GDP of Israel was roughly $525 billion US dollars in 2022, led by its high-tech and manufacturing industries. It is also one of the leading producers of diamonds in the world. With precious stones as a major export, it’s not surprising that the economy of Israel is very active. Housing costs are quite high, especially in major cities like Tel Aviv. There are plenty of Israeli residents and international buyers competing for homes in these areas. This can drive up the costs overall.

Political unrest and conflict can have a big impact on everything from housing availability and prices to the larger economy. While Israel’s economy remains strong, prolonged conflict is likely to change this over time. Experts closely track these kinds of changes to see what effect they might have on the global economy.

2. Japan

Aerial view of Tokyo cityscape with Fuji mountain in Japan.

Tokyo is home to car companies like Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Kawasaki, and many others.

Japan is one of the most developed nations in Asia, especially when it comes to technology. Because they are a leader in high-tech goods and services, Japan also has one of the strongest economies in the region. As of 2022, Japan’s GDP was a staggering $4.2 trillion! The country has a large presence in the global automobile market as well. This translates to high salaries for its workforce and a strong infrastructure. Housing costs in Japan are low compared to the United States. However, their tax structure is different, which can mean higher taxes on housing.

3. Republic of Korea

Cityscap of seoul city from top of mountain, South korea

Seoul, South Korea is known for its mixing of traditional Korean culture and architecture with innovative new ideas and developments.

Another country that has the tech industry to thank for its economic boom is South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea. South Korea and North Korea divided at their current line in 1953. While their neighbor to the north adopted communist policies and government, South Korea has been much more active in the global economy. This translated to economic growth and today it is one of the most expensive countries in Asia.

The capital city, Seoul, is an expensive place to live but also the center of many industries. This often translates to more job opportunities, a stronger city infrastructure, and increased earnings. It also means higher housing and living costs. Some other parts of the country, particularly rural areas, have very different costs and conditions.

4. Qatar

The Flag of Qatar is flown prominently in many public places, including on boats.

The Flag of Qatar is flown prominently in many public places, including on boats.

One of the Middle Eastern nations in Asia, Qatar’s economy is based on its oil resources. While the country has been a known source of oil since the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 1970s that oil production resulted in major growth for Qatar. As of 2022, Qatar’s GDP was just over $236 billion. Housing can be less expensive in Qatar than in the United States but most of the time, imports cost quite a bit more. Qatar is a small nation with a lot of coastline. Its capital city, Doha, is right on the Persian Gulf.

5. China

Beijing, China cityscape at the CBD.

Large cities in China, such as Beijing, house and employ a large portion of the country’s population.

With over 1.4 billion people, China has the largest population in the entire world. It is also a big player in the global economy, especially exports that are shipped and sold all around the world. The country’s GDP is $17 trillion. Housing costs vary widely across the county. In major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, the demand for housing outpaces the supply. So prices in these areas are much higher than the prices in rural areas. Cities are also much easier for employment and amenities, however, which is why so many people in China are more than willing to pay higher prices to live there. Overall, housing in China is still less expensive than comparable housing in the United States.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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