Most expensive cities for expats 2017

The list of the world’s most expensive cities for expats has been updated for 2017 with African, Asian, and European cities dominating the top of the ranking. 

Moving to a new country is one of the most expensive endeavours one can undertake. Whether you’re an experienced expat looking to permanently relocate or a digital nomad searching for remote jobs in a location you love, the cost of essentials such as accommodation, petrol and food will heavily influence any decision undertaken. Whatever you decide, one useful tool to help choose where your future lies is to compare the cost of living in your new city to your old.

Comparing the cost of living

Consultancy firm Mercer initially developed the list to help multinational companies and governments determine wages and allowances for their expat workforce. Mercer’s survey analyses the price of over 200 goods and services in over 360 cities with substantial expat communities across the globe.

Mercer uses New York as its base city and the US dollar as the base currency. The results differ from other surveys such as the Economist’s Worldwide Cost of Living as Mercer focuses specifically on products bought by expats.

Region by region

Only three European cities remain in the top 10 most expensive cities for expats and they are all in Switzerland: Zurich (4), Geneva (7) and Bern (10). Five of the top 10 are Asian cities. Hong Kong (2) is Asia’s most expensive city for expats; its currency is pegged to the US dollar, which has driven up the cost of accommodation in the city. Hong Kong is followed by Tokyo (3), Singapore (5), Seoul (6) and Shanghai (8).

Several African cities continue to rank highly, reflecting high living costs and prices of goods that expats typically consume. Luanda takes the top spot as the most expensive city for expats despite its weakening currency. Luanda is followed by Victoria (13), Ndjamena (15) and Kinshasa (17). Tunis falls six spots to rank 209 as the least expensive city in the world.

Use the infographic below to view the five most expensive regional cities for expats.

The most expensive city in North America is New York (9), followed by San Francisco (21) and Los Angeles (23). In South America, it is Brazilian cities Sao Paulo (26) and Rio de Janeiro (56) that are the most expensive cities for expats having surged 102 and 100 spots respectively. This is largely due to the strengthening Brazilian currency.

Most expensive cities for expats ranking

Sort the table below to view the most expensive cities for expats by cost of living or by country.

RANKCITYCOUNTRY
1LuandaAngola
2Hong KongHong Kong
3TokyoJapan
4ZurichSwitzerland
5SingaporeSingapore
6SeoulSouth Korea
7GenevaSwitzerland
8ShanghaiChina
9New York CityUnited States
10BernSwitzerland
11BeijingChina
12ShenzhenChina
13MoscowRussia
13VictoriaSeychelles
15NdjamenaChad
16Tel AvivIsrael
17KinshasaDem. Rep. of the Congo
18GuangzhouChina
19DubaiUnited Arab Emirates
20OsakaJapan
21San FranciscoUnited States
22Abu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
23Los AngelesUnited States
24SydneyAustralia
24TaipeiTaiwan
26Sao PauloBrazil
27CopenhagenDenmark
28LagosNigeria
29LondonUnited Kingdom
30BrazzavilleCongo
31ChicagoUnited States
32LibrevilleGabon
32NanjingChina
34NagoyaJapan
35HonoluluUnited States
35St.PetersburgRussia
37TianjinChina
37DhakaBangladesh
39WashingtonUnited States
40Buenos AiresArgentina
41MiamiUnited States
42AbidjanCªte d'Ivoire
42NoumeaNew Caledonia
42ShenyangChina
45QingdaoChina
46ChengduChina
46MelbourneAustralia
46OsloNorway
49DjiboutiDjibouti
50PerthAustralia
51BostonUnited States
52BeirutLebanon
52RiyadhSaudi Arabia
54AccraGhana
55ManamaBahrain
56Rio De JaneiroBrazil
57AshkhabadTurkmenistan
57MumbaiIndia
59AbujaNigeria
59AmmanJordan
61AucklandNew Zealand
62DallasUnited States
62ParisFrance
64White PlainsUnited States
65MontevideoUruguay
66DublinIreland
67BangkokThailand
67SantiagoChile
67YangonMyanmar
70YaoundeCameroon
71BrisbaneAustralia
71CanberraAustralia
71MilanItaly
74HoustonUnited States
75Port Of SpainTrinidad & Tobago
76SeattleUnited States
77AdelaideAustralia
78ViennaAustria
79San JuanPuerto Rico
80RomeItaly
81DohaQatar
81MorristownUnited States
83AtlantaUnited States
84BanguiCentral African Republic
85AmsterdamNetherlands
86MinneapolisUnited States
86WellingtonNew Zealand
88HelsinkiFinland
88JakartaIndonesia
88Panama CityPanama
91ConakryGuinea
92MuscatOman
93DakarSenegal
94DoualaCameroon
95DetroitUnited States
95ManilaPhilippines
97Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam
98MunichGermany
99New DelhiIndia
100Bandar Seri BegawanBrunei
100ClevelandUnited States
100HanoiVietnam
100St. LouisUnited States
104BrusselsBelgium
104LimaPeru
106StockholmSweden
107LuxembourgLuxembourg
107PittsburghUnited States
107VancouverCanada
110San JoseCosta Rica
111Guatemala CityGuatemala
111Kuwait CityKuwait
111MadridSpain
111NairobiKenya
115Phnom PenhCambodia
115PortlandUnited States
117FrankfurtGermany
117JeddahSaudi Arabia
119TorontoCanada
120BerlinGermany
121BarcelonaSpain
122DusseldorfGermany
123QuitoEcuador
123TashkentUzbekistan
125HamburgGermany
126BamakoMali
126BrasiliaBrazil
126RigaLatvia
129MontrealCanada
130CasablancaMorocco
130Pointe A PitreGuadeloupe
132ColomboSri Lanka
132PragueCzech Rep.
134Port Au PrinceHaiti
135ChennaiIndia
136Addis AbabaEthiopia
137LisbonPortugal
137LyonFrance
139CotonouBenin
140Winston SalemUnited States
141StuttgartGermany
142IstanbulTurkey
143CalgaryCanada
144AthensGreece
144LomeTogo
146AberdeenUnited Kingdom
147BirminghamUnited Kingdom
147BratislavaSlovakia
147KigaliRwanda
150Santo DomingoDominican Rep.
151HavanaCuba
152OttawaCanada
153BogotaColombia
153OuagadougouBurkina Faso
155KingstonJamaica
156HarareZimbabwe
156San SalvadorEl Salvador
158NiameyNiger
159ZagrebCroatia
160TallinnEstonia
161GlasgowUnited Kingdom
161LjubljanaSlovenia
163KievUkraine
164Dar Es SalaamTanzania
165Kuala LumpurMalaysia
166BangaloreIndia
167VilniusLithuania
168NurnbergGermany
169RabatMorocco
170BelfastUnited Kingdom
171Port LouisMauritius
172LeipzigGermany
173IslamabadPakistan
173LimassolCyprus
175AlmatyKazakhstan
176BudapestHungary
177Mexico CityMexico
178AsuncionParaguay
179LusakaZambia
180WarsawPoland
181BucharestRomania
182BakuAzerbaijan
183CairoEgypt
184KolkataIndia
184SofiaBulgaria
186KampalaUganda
187AlgiersAlgeria
188MaputoMozambique
189NouakchottMauritania
189TiranaAlbania
191JohannesburgSouth Africa
192BanjulGambia
193La PazBolivia
194ManaguaNicaragua
195YerevanArmenia
196GaboroneBotswana
197TegucigalpaHonduras
198BelgradeSerbia
199Cape TownSouth Africa
200MinskBelarus
201KarachiPakistan
202SarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina
203MonterreyMexico
204TbilisiGeorgia
205BlantyreMalawi
206SkopjeMacedonia
206WindhoekNamibia
208BishkekKyrgyzstan
209TunisTunisia
Lead image: Dreamstime