These Are the World’s Most Expensive Places to Buy Water
Plastic bottles of water in Canada. (Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg)

These Are the World’s Most Expensive Places to Buy Water

Oslo emerged as the city where a bottle of water is most expensive, and is almost triple the median price in 120 cities surveyed by Holidu, a search engine for vacation rentals.

Tel Aviv, New York, Stockholm and Helsinki are the next most expensive locales to purchase a 16.9-ounce (500-milliliter) bottle of water, Holidu said in a study released Thursday. The company’s Water Price Index compares and analyzes the costs of tap and bottled water in 30 U.S. and 120 cities worldwide, selected due to their popularity as tourist destinations.

Oslo also holds the top spot for tap water prices, while Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and San Diego are among the 20 most costly in the world. In Oslo, tap water is 212% more costly than the median of 120 cities in the survey and bottled water is 195% more expensive.

“The results are a real eye-opener when thinking about how much we are willing to pay for something that we take for granted as a basic necessity,” said Johannes Siebers, CEO & co-founder of Holidu.

These Are the World’s Most Expensive Places to Buy Water

Climate change is affecting the availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs, with 2.2 billion people currently without access to safely managed drinking water, the United Nations said in a report last year.

Holidu’s index examines both tap and bottled water, analyzing the quality and cost using different sources within cities, including the price of a bottle of Danone SA’s Evian, Nestle SA’s Perrier and the local Coca-Cola Co. brand.

“Bottled-water consumption has skyrocketed over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down,” Siebers said. “It’s projected that the global market for bottled water will reach $307.6 billion by 2025.”

Boston ranked highest in terms of water quality among American cities, and was 24th overall. The Massachussetts city is followed by Seattle and Portland. Data for the water-quality index come from the UN and the World Health Organization. Additionally, self-reported survey data from Numbeo was used to help gauge public perceptions of the quality of water and pollution at the local level.

These Are the World’s Most Expensive Places to Buy Water

Athens, Montreal and Rome were highly ranked in water quality, yet prices for the tap variety were below the study’s average. In Athens, water quality scored at 94.2 out of 100 while the tap-water cost was 34.5% below the median price. Innsbruck, Austria, held the top spot in water quality followed by Helsinki, Vienna and Oslo.

Water quality was most dire in Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; and Dakar, Senegal. New Orleans ranked lowest among U.S. cities in the survey, followed by Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Water issues in Nigeria’s financial hub of Lagos will continue to be an issue as the country deals with booming population growth. The city has a projected population of almost 15 million this year from about 325,000 in 1950, UN estimates show. By 2047, the number of people in Africa’s biggest economy is expected to be larger than that of the U.S., all living in an area the size of Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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