Urban Transformation

Which cities in the world are the most expensive for expats?

A nightview shows the 118-metre-high (387 ft) silo tower of Swiss grain mill Swissmill in Zurich Switzerland July 18, 2016.     REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Costs of living can vary dramatically from place to place because of local taxes and regional employment figures. Image: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Sarah Gray
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Hong Kong, known for its spectacular setting and bustle, is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to a new survey.

In fact, Asian cities made up six of the top 10 cities on the list, released on Tuesday by consulting firm Mercer. Tokyo was second, Singapore fourth, Seoul was fifth, Shanghai was seven, and Beijing was ninth.

The two European cities in the top 10 were Zurich and Bern, Switzerland at number three and 10 respectively. The African cities Luanda, Angola and Ndjamena, Chad were numbers six and eight.

No U.S. cities cracked the top 10; in 2017, New York City was No. 9. The absence is a result of a strengthening of European economy that caused Western Europe cities to rise in the rankings, according to Mercer.

The survey, which was conducted in March 2018, uses New York City (No. 13 on the list) as its base for comparing cities. Prices were compared using the U.S. dollar. The survey itself includes over 375 cities worldwide, but Mercer only ranked 209 of them.

For the survey, Mercer measured the “comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.”

For the record, Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the cheapest city on the list.

“With technology advances and the importance of a globally connected workforce, deploying talent remains a key component of a multinational’s business strategy,” Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s career business, said in a statement. “While a mobile workforce allows organizations to achieve greater efficiency, utilize top talent, and be cost effective with international projects, volatile markets and slowing economic growth in many parts of the world require them to carefully assess expatriate remuneration packages.”

Here are the top 20 most expensive cities:

1. Hong Kong (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)

2. Tokyo (Japan)

3. Zurich (Switzerland)

4. Singapore

5. Seoul (South Korea)

6. Luanda (Angola)

7. Shanghai (China)

8. N’Djamena (Chad)

9. Beijing (China)

10. Bern (Switzerland)

11. Geneva (Switzerland)

12. Shenzhen (China)

13. New York City

14. Copenhagen (Denmark)

15. Guangzhou (China)

16. Tel Aviv (Israel)

17. Moscow (Russia)

18. Libreville (Gabon)

19. Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo)

20. London (U.K.)

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Urban TransformationEconomic GrowthJobs and the Future of Work
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