Most expensive expat locations revealed

Venezuela’s capital city, Caracas, has been named simultaneously the world’s most expensive and the cheapest city for expats – depending on the exchange rate you use.

According to the findings of the latest Cost of Living survey, carried out by ECA International, Venezuela’s official fixed exchange rate greatly overvalues the bolivar, making Caracas by far the most costly in the world for the second year running for companies paying expats on that basis. However, expats now have access to the much fairer and better value Sicad 2 rate, introduced to enable a more regular supply of US dollars to importers at an exchange rate much closer to the black-market rate. When this rate is applied the cost of items in ECA’s basket of goods and services plummets and Caracas becomes the cheapest city in the world for expatriates.

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, NZ is the world’s 43rd most expensive location for expats

“Companies with expatriate staff in Venezuela will need to choose carefully which exchange rate to apply in order to calculate and provide the most appropriate cost of living allowances,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, ECA International. “This decision will depend on the circumstances of the company and the individual on assignment.”

The survey, which compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 440 locations worldwide, found that Luanda in Angola was the world’s second most expensive destination, followed by Oslo, Norway. These were the exact same three cities which occupied the top three spots in last year’s survey.

In terms of cities which tend to be popular locations for British expats, those ranked in the top 50 included Sydney, Australia, ranked 29th, Auckland, NZ (36th), Melbourne, Australia (39th), Manhattan, USA (40th), Perth, Australia (42nd), Wellington, New Zealand (43rd) Brisbane, Australia (48th) and Paris, France (49th).

To find out how keeping track of foreign currency fluctuations can make your lifestyle more affordable in your new home country, make sure you speak to a specialist currency exchange firm like Halo Financial.

Top 10 most expensive cities worldwide for international assignees

  1. Caracas, Venezuela
  2. Luanda, Angola
  3. Oslo, Norway
  4. Stavanger, Norway
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Geneva, Switzerland
  7. Bern, Switzerland
  8. Basel, Switzerland
  9. Juba, South Sudan
  10. Seoul, South Korea

Article published 12th December 2014