Amsterdam ranked 12th most expensive expat city in Europe

Mercer’s annual Cost of Living City Rankings have just been released for 2014. The global survey ranked Amsterdam as the 39th most expensive city for expats worldwide, and the 12th most expensive within Europe.

How the Cost of Living rankings work

The rankings compare the cost of living for expats in 211 cities worldwide. Mercer’s city rankings are based on data gathered in their annual Cost of Living Survey, which measures the comparative cost of more than 200 goods and services in each city, including housing, transportation and food. New York is used as the base city.

The survey helps governments and multinational companies calculate appropriate allowances for employees working internationally.

Worldwide top 10: highest cost of living

2014 2013      City     Country
1 1 Luanda Angola
2 4 N'Djamena Chad
3 6 Hong Kong Hong Kong
4 5 Singapore Singapore
5 8 Zurich Switzerland
6 7 Geneva Switzerland
7 3 Tokyo Japan
8 9 Bern Switzerland
9 2 Moscow Russia
10 14 Shanghai China

Pricey African cities

This year’s list is topped by two cities in Africa: Luanda and N’Djamena. Ed Hannibal, a spokesperson for Mercer, explains that although they are relatively inexpensive cities, they are expensive for expats because imported goods cost premium prices, and secure housing that meets expatriate standards can be costly.

Swiss cities most expensive in Europe

Switzerland is in the unenviable position of having the three most expensive cities for expats in Europe, with Zurich, Geneva and Bern all in the global top 10.

Following the Swiss cities are Northern capitals London, Copenhagen and Oslo. Paris, Milan, Rome and Vienna complete the European top 10. Stockholm and Amsterdam follow in 11th and 12th place respectively.

European top 12: highest cost of living

 2014  2013 City Country
5 8 Zurich Switzerland
6 7 Geneva Switzerland
8 9 Bern Switzerland
12 25 London UK
15 17 Copenhagen Denmark
20 11 Oslo Norway
27 37 Paris France
30 41 Milan Italy
31 44 Rome Italy
32 48 Vienna Austria
38 42 Stockholm Sweden
39 52 Amsterdam Netherlands

Europe more expensive than a year ago

Almost all of the top 12 European cities have become comparatively more expensive in the past 12 months.

Vienna climbed the most, moving up 16 places from 48th last year to 32nd this year. London, Rome and Amsterdam all jumped 13 places. Only Olso’s ranking went down, from 11th last year, to 20th this year.

Mercer attributes European cities’ rise in ranking to the strengthening of European currencies against the US dollar. Of all European cities on the worldwide list, British and German cities experienced the biggest surges in rankings, particularly Glasgow, Birmingham and Berlin.

In addition to Amsterdam’s higher cost of living ranking, the city also raised its ranking on Mercer’s 2014 Quality of Living index, moving from 12th place in 2013 to 11th place this year.

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

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