Several things can make the cost of living, in any given country, high.
The first thing that can make the cost of living in any given country high is poor economic policies (like, for instance, those that discourage competition).
The second thing that can make the cost of living in any given country high is corruption. Corruption increases the cost of doing business: with the additional cost being passed onto the ordinary citizens at the bottom of the pyramid. You will notice that there some countries that are so corrupt that, for instance, you can’t use conveniences like Citicards credit cards or even undertake the www.citicards.com sign in procedure in them. In fact, in such countries, due to corruption (which hinders the development of the necessary infrastructure for Internet connectivity), you may not even be able to access the www.citicards.com login page.
The third thing that can make the cost of living in any given country high is lack of natural resources. Countries will an abundance of natural resources like oil are able to subsidize stuff for their citizens: making the cost of living bearable.
The fourth thing that can make the cost of living in any given country high is poor climate. Countries with poor climates end up having to import most of their food: raising the cost of living substantially.