List of most expensive cities for expatriate employees

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These are lists of the world's most expensive cities for expatriate employees (not residents), according to the Mercer,[1] ECA International[2] and [3] cost-of-living surveys. Other surveys from online collaborative indices, such as Numbeo,[4] Expatistan[5] or Eardex[6] are not covered by this article.

Various factors enter into a city's cost-of-living for expatriate employees, such as monetary value, consumer confidence, investment, interest rates, exchange rates of the country's currency, and housing costs. This list does not account for cost-of-living savings accrued to local citizens through government-subsidized housing, health care, and education, differences in taxation, and many other factors irrelevant to expatriates. Cost of living may be much higher for expatriates than for local residents in a developing country, especially if expatriates expect a standard of living similar to a developed country.


Mercer's Cost of Living surveys are taken in March of each year.

The survey covers 214 cities around the world and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all other cities are compared against New York. The cost of housing plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Two main factors determine a city’s ranking in Mercer’s survey - the relative strength of the relevant currency against the US dollar over the prior 12 months and price movements over the prior 12 months compared to those in New York City as the base.

Top ten locations surveyed (2014)[7]
Rank City Country Region
1 Luanda  Angola Africa
2 N'Djamena  Chad Africa
3 Hong Kong  Hong Kong Asia Pacific
4 Singapore  Singapore Asia Pacific
5 Zurich   Switzerland Europe
6 Geneva   Switzerland Europe
7 Tokyo  Japan Asia Pacific
8 Bern   Switzerland Europe
9 Moscow  Russia Europe
10 Shanghai  China Asia Pacific

ECA International[edit]

Every March and September, ECA International calculates the cost of living for expatriates in almost 400 cities around the world. The survey does not include certain living costs such as accommodation, utilities (electricity, gas, water costs), car purchase and school fees. These are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages from cost of living allowances.

Top 20 cities surveyed (2013)[2]
Ranking City Country
1 Caracas  Venezuela
2 Luanda  Angola
3 Oslo  Norway
4 Juba  South Sudan
5 Stavanger  Norway
6 Zürich   Switzerland
7 Geneva   Switzerland
8 Bern   Switzerland
9 Basel   Switzerland
10 Tokyo  Japan
11 Copenhagen  Denmark
12 Moscow  Russia
13 Brazzaville  Congo
14 Helsinki  Finland
15 Beijing  China
16 Nagoya  Japan
17 Libreville  Gabon
18 Shanghai  China
19 Stockholm  Sweden
20 Yokohama  Japan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mercer's 2013 Cost of Living Survey City Rankings – Global Overview". Mercer. July 23, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Caracas is now the world's most expensive place for expatriates". ECA International. December 5, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Cost of Living Rankings for 2014". Xpatulator. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Cost of Living Index for 2012". Numbeo. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Expatistan Cost of Living Index". Expatistan. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ Eardex. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "Mercer's 2014 Cost of Living - City Rankings". Mercer. July 10, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2014.