The Strategist

The world's most expensive cities for expats

06/26/2018 - 16:44

According to the authors of the traditional study on the cost of living for expats, i.e. people living and working abroad, Hong Kong is the priciest for them. In general, Asia leads the list in this year's ranking, with six cities in the top ten: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing. There are also two representatives of Europe and Africa at the top of the rating: Zurich (3) Luanda (6), N'Djamena, Chad, (8) and Bern (10).

The main reason for Asia's dominance in this year's ranking is currency fluctuations.

"Asian cities and especially the cities of China have created a strong influence on the cost of living, mainly due to currency fluctuations," explains Mario Ferraro, head of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey at the Mercer consulting company. "Companies are moving professionals around the world in response to a deficit of necessary workers".

Hong Kong has switched places with Luanda. In last year's rating, the capital of Angola was in the first place, and Hong Kong held the second position. The fall of last year's leader is caused by a sharp depreciation of the Angolan currency. As for the Chinese cities, which are in the top ten three, they went up thanks to the economic growth of the Celestial Empire and the fact that the yuan became the reserve world currency on October 1, 2016.

"Strengthening the yuan led to the rise of cost of living in Chinese cities," explains Slagin Parakatil, head of the group of economists working on the rating, "and the weakening of the yen against the US dollar caused the fall of most Japanese cities."

The fall in the value of the US dollar to most major currencies also put American cities down in the rating. The most expensive city of America for expats is New York; it is located at the 13th place.

New York is the base city for comparisons of participants in the 24th Cost of Living Survey. Cost of more than 200 products, goods and services is compared to those in New York, including the cost of housing, transport, food and clothing. So, the monthly rent of a four-room house of international standards without furniture in the corresponding area in Hong Kong is an average of 13424 dollars. In New York, renting the same house will cost $ 5,700, and 6,991 - in London.

Also, there is the bottom ten in the rating. Places 200 to 209 in the Cost of Living Survey 2018 are occupied by Managua (Nicaragua), Tegucigalpa (Honduras), Minsk (Belarus), Tbilisi (Georgia), Blantyre (Malawi), Karachi (Pakistan), Banjul (Gambia), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Tunisia and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). 

Dublin became the most expensive city for foreigners in the euro area. The capital of Ireland holds 32 place. For comparison, Milan ranks 33rd, Paris – 34th, Vienna – 39th, Rome – 46th.