World’s most expensive expat cities revealed

The Angolan capital of Luanda is the world’s most expensive expat city, a new survey has found.

Luanda has overtaken Hong Kong in the top spot of the 2017 Mercer Cost of Living survey, driven mainly by the high cost of goods and security.

However, the higher echelons of the survey, which ranks 209 cities worldwide, is largely dominated by Asian and European cities. Hong Kong (2nd), Tokyo (3rd), Zurich (4th), Singapore (5th), Seoul (6th), Geneva (7th), Shanghai (8th), and Bern (10th), are all deemed to be among the ten most expensive expat cities in the world.

Aside from Luanda, New York City is the only non-European or Asian city to be placed in the top ten.

“The strengthening of the Japanese yen along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market pushed Japanese and other Asian cities up in the ranking,” said Mercer’s principal, Nathalie Constantin-Métral. “However, the majority of Chinese cities fell in the rankings due to the weakening of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar,” she added.

While three European cities may have been ranked among the top ten of the world’s most expensive expat cities, many European cities slipped in this year’s rankings. ““Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar, which pushed most Western European cities down in the ranking,” explained Constantin-Métral. “Additionally, other factors like the Eurozone’s economy have impacted these cities.”

Unsurprisingly, given the impact of Brexit, the UK has become a cheaper place to live, largely due to significant fall of the Pound in the world’s currency markets. London (30th), Aberdeen (146th) and Birmingham (147th) dropped 13, 61 and 51 spots respectively

Overall, US cities either remained stable in the ranking or have slightly increased due to the movement of the US dollar against the majority of currencies worldwide. In addition to New York, San Francisco was ranked (22nd), Los Angeles (24th) and Chicago (32nd). Portland (115th) and Winston Salem (140th) remain the least expensive surveyed cities for expats in the US.

Elsewhere, Australian cities have all experienced further jumps up the global ranking since last year due to the strengthening of the Australian dollar. Sydney (25), Australia’s most expensive city for expatriates, gained 17 places in the ranking along with Melbourne (46) and Perth (50) which went up 25 and 19 spots, respectively.

The world’s least expensive expat cities, according to Mercer’s survey, are Tunis, Tunisia; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Skopje, Macedonia.

The annual Mercer Cost of Living survey is deemed to be one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. It measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

Article published 22nd June 2017