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World’s most expensive city named by Mercer in 2015 Cost of Living Rankings

Published: 22 June 2015

World’s most expensive city named by Mercer in 2015 Cost of Living Rankings

Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Rankings has placed Luanda, the capital of Angola, as the most expensive city for expats employees to live in 2015.

The ranking looks at a total of 207 cities across the world, ranking them based on a basket of goods and services which are frequently purchased by expats.

This was the 21st Cost of Living Ranking released by Mercer which has found that factors including the “instability of housing markets” and “inflation for goods and services” has a major impact on the cost of doing business around the world for multinational corporations.

While Luanda may seem like an odd city to take top spot, especially considering Hong Kong (2nd), Zurich (3rd), Singapore (4th) and Geneva (5th), it has been the most expensive city for expats for the previous 3 years.

The cost of living for Angolan citizens is significantly lower, however the significant amounts of natural resources which attract multinationals means that there is a need to import goods and services at significant cost – purely for the expat market.

The survey compares the costs of over 200 items in each location including housing, transportation, food, clothing and entertainment. New York is used as a “base” city with others compared against it.

In Europe, the weakening Euro led to a fall in the ranking for a number of cities, with the exception of Zurich, Geneva, Bern (9th) and London (12th). Typically, cities in France, Italy and Germany fell quite significantly.

In the Middle East, Tel-Aviv (18th) remained the most expensive city for expats, followed by Dubai (23rd) and Abu Dhabi (33rd).

A total of five of the top ten cities are to be found in Asia where Shanghai (6th), Beijing (7th) and Seoul (8th) are all placed in the top ten, along with Singapore and Hong Kong.

Sydney (33rd) remained Australia’s most expensive expat city, although Australian cities have also fallen due to the depreciation of the Australian dollar against the $US.

With the US dollar strengthening against so many currencies this year American cities performed significantly better than other countries. New York (16th) remained the most expensive city for expats in North America, other major cities climbed significantly including Los Angeles (up 26 places to 36th) and Washington DC (up 42 places to 50th).

In South America, Buenos Aires (19th) climbed 67 places to become the most expensive city for expats in South America. This significant jump is attributed to the rising costs of imported goods and services to the region.

Top ten most expensive cities for expats

  1. Luanda, Angola (No change from 2015)
  2. Hong Kong, Hong Kong (+1)
  3. Zurich, Switzerland (+2)
  4. Singapore, Singapore (-)
  5. Geneva, Switzerland (+1)
  6. Shanghai, China (+4)
  7. Beijing, China (+4)
  8. Seoul, South Korea (+6)
  9. Bern, Switzerland (-1)
  10. N'Djamena, Chad (-8)

For the full rankings press release, please visit the Mercer website.

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