Amsterdam drops 7 places on list of most expensive cities for expats

Though Amsterdam may seem expensive, depending on where you come from originally, in fact it has dropped seven places since last year's survey to the 57th most expensive city in the world for expats, according to Mercer's latest Cost of Living survey.

As of this year, Tokyo is the world's most expensive city for expats, pushing last year's topper, Luanda, Angola, to second place. Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, is the world's cheapest. Osaka ranks third, up 3 places from last year, while Moscow and Geneva remain in 4th and 5th place, respectively.

The annual survey covers 214 cities across five continents and compares the cost of over 200 items in each location, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. Housing is of course included, as it is often the biggest expense for expats. New York is used as the base city against which all cities are compared, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, have affected the rankings for many regions via currency fluctuations, inflation, and volatility in accommodation prices. Almost all European cities have dropped in the rankings, mainly due to a considerable weakening of local currencies, including the euro, against the US dollar.

Among pricey European cities other than Moscow, three in Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich, and Bern) make the list's top 15, following the strengthening of the Swiss franc against the US dollar. Oslo (18), Copenhagen (21), and London (25) also remain high on the list, though they've all dropped a few spots since last year.

Elsewhere around the world, Tel Aviv is still the most expensive city in the Middle East for expats, at 31st place. Luanda remains the most expensive city in Africa, although Ndjamena (Chad) isn't far behind in the 8th position.

São Paulo (12) and Rio de Janeiro (13) are the priciest places in the Americas. The study's benchmark, New York City, is the most expensive city in the U.S., but comes in at just the 33rd position overall.

Eight cities in Asia make the top 25 (Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Nagoya, Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul, in that order). Remarkably, all six Australian cities included in the survey rank 27th or higher (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide, in that order).

Top 10 cities: cost of living
 Tokyo, Japan
 Luanda, Angola
 Osaka, Japan
 Moscow, Russia
 Geneva, Switzerland
 Zurich, Switzerland
 Singapore, Singapore
 N’Djamena, Chad
 Hong Kong, Hong Kong
 Nagoya, Japan

Principal researcher Nathalie Constantin-Métral puts the results in context thusly: "Deploying expatriate employees is becoming an increasingly important aspect of multinational companies’ business strategy, including expansion... Making sure salaries adequately reflect the difference in cost of living to the employee’s home country is important in order to attract and retain the right talent where companies need them."

Source: Mercer


Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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