Which global cities have the cheapest and most expensive tap water?
From Brussels to San Francisco, and from Cairo to Beirut, where in the world is water cheapest and most expensive? Recent research has established a global price index for tap water and bottled water in 120 cities worldwide.
It almost certainly hasn’t escaped you that, when you travel, the cost of water varies from country to country. In some destinations, buying bottled water is a necessity, as tap water isn’t always safe to drink. But how much can the cost of water vary from one destination to the next?
Marketing and PR agency Sweet Spot PR has some answers, in the form of research carried out with the vacation rentals search platform Holidu. This water price index compares the cost of tap (drinking) water in 120 cities worldwide, across all five continents, comparing the % deviation from the global median. The estimates were based on the monthly consumption cost of tap water in each city, up to 15 cubic meters.
The Norwegian capital Oslo tops the list of cities where tap water is the most expensive, with a price 212.24% higher than the global median. San Francisco (United States) and Stuttgart (Germany) follow in second and third places, with +183.60% and +164.78% deviation respectively. At the opposite end of the scale, tap water in the city of Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) comes at the lowest cost (-98.17% deviation from the global median), ahead of Cairo (-96.30%) in Egypt and Karachi (-95.71%) in Pakistan.
The study also looked at the price of bottled water in each city. First, the researchers found the price of a typical, affordable bottle of water that a tourist might buy at a supermarket. They then broke it down further by looking at the average price per bottle of three of the most common water brands.
Top five most expensive cities for bottled water (for a 50-centiliter bottle)
1) Oslo, Norway (€1.52)
2) Virginia Beach, U.S. (€1.31)
3) Los Angeles, U.S. (€1.27)
4) New Orleans, U.S. (€1.22)
5) Stockholm, Sweden (€1.21)
Top five least expensive cities for bottled water (for a 50-centiliter bottle)
1) Beirut, Lebanon (€0.03)
2) Bangalore, India (€0.11)
3) Accra, Ghana (€0.13)
4) Lagos, Nigeria (€0.14)
5) Istanbul, Turkey / Brussels, Belgium (€0.15)
The study also looked at water quality, using criteria encompassing safety and public perception.
Top 10 cities for water quality (score from 1 to 100)
1) Innsbruck, Austria (100)
2) Helsinki, Finland (99.51)
3) Vienna, Austria (98.93)
4) Oslo, Norway (97.83)
5) Rotterdam, Netherlands (97.20)
6) Amsterdam, Netherlands (96.84)
7) Stockholm, Sweden (96.68)
8) Geneva, Switzerland (96.50)
9) Zurich, Switzerland (96.38)
10) Glasgow, United Kingdom (95.84)
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