The most expensive places to build


The most expensive places to build

To identify the most expensive place to build, the average build cost in USD for six different types of building was assessed:

  • Apartment high-rise
  • Office block prestige
  • Large warehouse distribution centre
  • General hospital
  • Primary and secondary school
  • Shopping centre including mall
The five most expensive locations are New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Zurich, and London.

New York retained its position as the most expensive place to build in the world even though building spend dipped in 2017. But that was from an all-time high in 2016 and growth in construction spending is set to resume in 2018, stretching resources.

San Francisco held the second spot, driven by the wealth and demand generated by high-speed growth in the technology sector.

Hong Kong moved ahead of Zurich to third. An emphasis on boosting housing and infrastructure supported growth and with labour increasingly stretched, the market’s already historically high construction costs rose further and are expected to grow in 2018.

Zurich, meanwhile, saw relatively low levels of construction cost inflation in 2017 with levels of construction stable and a relatively even balance between supply and demand established in the market.

London held fifth place, with noticeably higher costs than other UK regions. Construction cost inflation at 3.9 percent was above the rate seen elsewhere in the UK, which in part reflects the high demand and pressures on supply, notably skilled labour, in the capital.

The locations with the lowest construction costs can be found in Bangalore, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul and Nairobi.

It is intriguing to note that average construction costs in 2017 in New York City, the most expensive place to build, are more than six times those seen in Bangalore, the cheapest place to build.

It is, however, worth noting that the method we use to compare the least and most expensive places to build is highly dependent on the exchange rate. A country with a weak currency against the USD will seem like an inexpensive place to build and a country with a strong exchange rate will seem expensive. Turner & Townsend also publishes purchasing power parity which compares the cost of construction with the local cost of living. To find out more about purchasing power parity and how and when to use it see our section on Comparing construction cost.

Region City Average cost (USD) per m²
Africa Kigali 1,082.2
Africa Johannesburg 1,078.8
Africa Kampala 969.5
Africa Dar es Salaam 846.8
Africa Nairobi 724.1
Asia Hong Kong 3,703.9
Asia Tokyo 2,560.1
Asia Singapore 2,137
Asia Seoul 1,662.2
Asia Kuala Lumpur 1,034.5
Asia Jakarta 888.9
Asia Shanghai 807.3
Asia Beijing 804.7
Asia Ho Chi Minh City 775.8
Asia Bangalore 638.5
Australasia Sydney 2,818.1
Australasia Melbourne 2,403.3
Australasia Brisbane 2,357.8
Australasia Perth 2,267.2
Europe Zurich 3,652
Europe London 3,617.7
Europe Dublin 3,105.2
Europe UK South 2,936.3
Europe UK Central 2,705.6
Europe UK North 2,694.6
Europe Scotland 2,693.7
Europe Amsterdam 2,631.8
Europe Paris 2,629.1
Europe Munich 2,549.6
Europe Northern Ireland 2,345.7
Europe Madrid 2,115.4
Europe Moscow 1,034.2
Europe Warsaw 1,030.3
Europe Istanbul 765.1
Middle East Doha 2,416.4
Middle East UAE 1,455
Middle East Muscat 1,337.6
North America New York City 3,900
North America San Francisco 3,736.7
North America Seattle 3,101.5
North America Toronto 2,495.8
North America Houston 2,361
South America Santiago 1,524.6
South America Buenos Aires 1,315.3
South America São Paulo 1,159.8
South America Bogotá 1,143.3



This content is part of the International construction market survey 2018

Go back to the main ICMS 2018 page