Hong Kong most expensive city for ex-pats as London scrapes into top 20 - study

27/06/2018 News Team

Hong Kong is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live, according to a study conducted by Mercer, a consultancy firm.

Hong Kong is followed by Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore. Three of the four most expensive cities are in Asia.

The figures for Mercer’s 24th annual Cost of Living survey take into account living and rental accommodation costs and the price of around 200 items in each city.

New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The ranking includes 209 cities across five continents.

Ilya Bonic, president of Mecer’s career business, said: “With technology advances and the importance of a globally connected workforce, deploying talent remains a key component of a multinational’s business strategy.

“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.”

The other cities named in the top ten costliest cities for expatriates are Seoul, Luanda, Shanghai, N’Djamena, Beijing, and Bern. In contrast, the three cheapest cities are Tashkent, Tunis, and Bishkek.

Cities in the USA have lowered in the ranking, perhaps due to the strong European economy, which caused a decline of the US dollar against other major currencies. New York is still the most expensive city in the region in 13th place.

San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago were all ranked lower than last year. Portland (130) and Winston Salem, North Carolina (161) remain the least expensive US cities surveyed for expatriates. 

São Paolo (58) is the most expensive city in South America, with Santiago a close second. Despite price increases in countries including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the majority of South American cities were ranked lower than last year. Caracas in Venezuela has been excluded from the ranking due to the complex currency situation. 

Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe, with Zurich, Bern and Geneva all being named as the three most expensive European cities. In the United Kingdom, London (19) is the most expensive city. Birmingham (128), Aberdeen (134) and Belfast (152), all ranked higher than previous years. 

Tel Aviv (16) continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates, followed by Dubai (26), Abu Dhabi (40), and Riyadh (45). Cairo (188) remains the least expensive city in the region. 

Despite falling five places from the top spot, Luanda, Angola, is still the most expensive city in Africa and is followed by N’djamena (8) and Libreville (18). 

With six of the top ten most expensive cities, Asia is a costly continent for expatriates. Mumbai (55) is India’s most expensive city, followed by New Delhi (103). In contrast, Kolkata (182) and Bengaluru (170) are the least expensive Indian cities ranked. 

Sydney (29) is Australia’s most expensive city and is followed by Melbourne (58), with most other Australian cities falling in the rankings.

Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed. 

Mercer is a New York-based human resources consulting firm. It has around 21,200 employees based in 40 countries and operates in 130 countries worldwide.

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