The ten cities listed here are some of the richest and most cultured cities in the world. They are home to some of the wealthiest people and the most successful companies in the world. A number of them are consistently rated the best place in the world to live. All of them are also located in wealthy countries with stable governments. Yet, despite all their wealth and advancements, they all have major problems with poverty and homelessness.
10. Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden’s capital and most populous city, Stockholm, is renowned for its culture and it is also in the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita. While many people think Sweden is a socialist country, it isn’t, but it does have socialist leanings. It is also known for its stable economy, for example, during the European debt crisis, Sweden was returning to a surplus, when other European countries were going into more debt.
Yet, even Stockholm with its strong social programs struggles with poverty. In fact, between 2001 and 2011, the poverty rate rose from about 8-9 percent to 15 percent. In Sweden, more than one in 10 children, approximately 220,000, live in poverty. Another major problem that Stockholm is facing is that they also have had an influx of Romanian immigrants who have made their way to Sweden who live in slums and panhandle. Unfortunately, this is becoming an increasingly large problem in Stockholm and they are unsure of a way to fix it.
9. London, England
London, England has a long, rich history and is considered a cultural capital of the world. It has the highest concentration of secondary schools in Europe, including some of the world’s most renowned universities like Oxford and the London School of Economics. It has a number of notable landmarks, museums and art galleries. So while it is a very cultured city, it has a serious problem; 28 percent of its population is living in poverty.
There are a number of factors that contribute to London’s high poverty rates, including the cost of apartment rentals. In outer London, the average cost to rent an apartment is $1,400 per month, while inner London it is about $1,800. There are also about a million people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are unemployed. It has been suggested that increasing the minimum wage and creating affordable housing could help lower poverty rates.
8. Seoul, South Korea
Founded over 2,000 years ago, Seoul currently has the fourth highest GDP out of all metropolises in the world. It is a technologically savvy city that is home to some of the biggest electronics and technological companies in the world. They have invested millions in infrastructure, including the world’s biggest subway system that is equipped with Wi-Fi.
Problems with poverty first became prevalent in 1988 when Seoul hosted the Olympics and city officials forced the homeless to shantytowns on the outskirts of the city. One of the shantytowns, Guryong, is a short distance from Gangnam, which is Seoul’s wealthiest neighborhood. A lot of the people who live in the shantytowns are seniors in their 70s and 80s, because Seoul has a major problem with supporting their senior citizens. The seniors, who helped Seoul rise to the economic powerhouse that it is today, often live in poverty. In fact, over half the seniors in Seoul are poor, which is the highest in the industrial world. The reason is because there was not much of a social security system put in place in South Korea because it was customary for children to look after their parents. However, in the past 15 years, that notion has changed drastically. 15 years ago, 90 percent of children thought they should look after their parents, and in 2014 that number had shrunk to just 37 percent, leaving many millions of seniors without any social support.
7. Silicon Valley, United States of America
Silicon Valley is an area in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area and encompasses Santa Clara Valley and parts of San Jose. Silicon Valley is the world’s biggest tech hub and home to some of the world’s biggest companies including Apple, Cisco, Facebook and Google. It also accounts for one-third of all venture capital in the United States. Needless to say, Silicon Valley is booming with business.
Yet, they also have an incredible problem with poverty. The poverty stems from the problem that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, which has made the cost of housing skyrocket. In 2015, the median rental list price is just under $2,000 a month and the median house price is $550,000. But housing isn’t the only factor; transportation, food and other necessities are also more expensive in Silicon Valley. For a family of four to cover all their expenses for a year, it is about $90,000. As a result, people are forced to live in garages and in tent cities.
6. Seattle, United States of America
According to one study, Seattle, Washington, is the best city for employment opportunities in the United States in 2015. It is also considered one of the best American cities for its rich culture. It’s a wealthy city; it has the sixth highest income median in America. However, one of the major problems with Seattle is that it has a growing problem with wealth inequality. Only people in the top five percent are having their salaries increased, while the bottom 40 percent hasn’t had much of an increase in wages in some time, which is a problem for the bottom 40 percent because the cost of living continues to increase.
Due to the wealth gap, Seattle struggles with poverty and homelessness. With the median rental apartment price of $1,284, people struggle to find an adequate residence. On a night in January 2014, the city counted 2,300 people sleeping in public places or in vehicles. That doesn’t include the people in the 1,700 beds in shelters. With the amount of homelessness in the city, three major tent cities have popped up and the mayor is looking at ways to make them legal so that the city can regulate them.
5. Toronto, Canada
Toronto is the most populated city in Canada and it is famous around the world for its multiculturalism. It is the commercial capital of Canada and according to the Economist’s Intelligence Unit and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, it is one of the best cities in the world to live in.
Like most big cities around the world, Toronto has a horrible problem with a high cost of living. In fact, in the same report issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit that said it was the best city to live in, it also placed Toronto in 70th out of 113 for cost of living. Due to that high cost, in 2014, Toronto was tied for highest child poverty rates in Canada, with 29 percent of children, which is about 149,000 children, live in low-income families. Out of the 140 neighbors in Toronto, 40 percent of them have child poverty rates of 30 percent or higher.
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is the shining beacon of wealth in the Middle East. It is an oil rich country, known for pouring money into elaborate projects like the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which cost $1.5 billion. There are also man-made islands called the Palm Islands, which cost at least $25 billion (only one of the three is finished). It is a country famous for its luxuries, expensive dining and one of its biggest attractions is shopping malls.
While they poured a ton of money into the construction of the city, Dubai has a major problem with poverty. This became more prevalent after the financial crash of 2008. The problem is 99 percent of people who live in Dubai weren’t born there and don’t have citizenship, so they are exploited. In fact, all those major construction projects listed above were built using mostly slave labor of immigrants from India and Pakistan.
3. Vancouver, Canada
The picturesque coastal city of Vancouver is often cited as the best city to live in within Canada, North America and even the world. It is an incredibly green city with a vibrant economy. It is often called “Hollywood North” because of how many movies are shot there due to its variety of scenery available; it has mountains, forests, urban areas and it is on an ocean.
It also is suffering from a high cost of living crisis. It is the most expensive city in Canada with the median cost of a house being over $700,000. In fact, it is just behind Hong Kong in terms of least affordable housing in the world. Due to the high cost of living, one in 10 people live in poverty, which is about 72,000 people.
Vancouver also has one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada, which is the Downtown Eastside. The neighborhood is the cheapest in the city and is rife with drug dealers and prostitutes since the 1950s. Currently, there are approximately 18,500 people that live in the two-kilometer (0.6 miles) stretch of downtown. It is estimated that about $1 million per day is being pumped into social programs for the Downtown Eastside, but it has not made much of a difference.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, has the highest GDP in the world. It has 51 Fortune Global 500 companies, which is the most of any city in the world. At the end of 2012, it also had 461,000 millionaires, meaning that Tokyo has more millionaires than any other city.
Despite being the wealthiest city in the world, Tokyo has a seemingly unseen poverty problem and poverty numbers are hard to find. There is no begging and the homeless generally try to stay hidden, but Tokyo has its share of poverty. It is estimated that out of the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Japan has the sixth worst relative poverty rate. One group that is definitely having problems is single parent families. The relative poverty rate for them is over 50 percent. It is the only country in the world where being employed doesn’t reduce the overall poverty rate for single parents. Meaning that more than half of the single parents in Tokyo cannot afford their lifestyle.
1. New York City, United States
New York City is one of the most famous cities in the world. It is a leader in arts and culture. It is one of the most visited cities and has numerous attractions like the Broadway District, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty and Central Park, just to name a few. It is the home to Wall Street and NYC has the second highest GDP for a metropolitan area. It is also the city with the second most millionaires, being home to about 389,000 of them.
New York City is also very well known for having an incredible amount of poverty, mainly owing to the fact that it has a long history of having some of the highest rent prices in the world. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, between 2000 and 2012, the rental median rose by 75 percent, which means that as of 2013, the average rate to rent an apartment was $3,017. The result is that 45.6 percent of people who live in New York live near or below the poverty line. Even worse, during the winter of 2015, which was the coldest winter on record for NYC, homelessness hit an all time high of 67,000 people. What’s interesting is that 2010, the federal government put more money and resources into trying to help the homeless, but in 2010, there were just over 53,000 homeless people in New York City. So even with the government trying to combat homelessness, the rates in New York City still rose.
This feature originally appeared in Toptenz.