World’s most expensive cities for expats 2018

By Suzanne Lai
August 5, 2018

The world’s most expensive cities for expats list has been updated for 2018 with six out of 10 in Asia.

Mercer, the world’s largest human resources consulting firm, has released its annual Cost of Living Survey, now in its 24th year. The survey suggests that unstable housing markets, low inflation and fluctuating prices for goods and services are impacting the cost of doing business in various cities around the world – changing how and where multinationals operate.

The digital era, ageing populations, skills shortages, and unpredictable political and economic contexts are further changing the landscape of global business.

Multinationals are embracing this transformation by offering remote jobs that are critical for accessing new talent, often in unexpected corners of the world. 

Comparing the cost of living

Mercer initially developed the list to help multinational companies and governments determine wages and allowances for their expat workforce. Its 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

Hong Kong (1) has passed Luanda (6) to take the top spot as the world’s most expensive city for expats. Tokyo (2) and Zurich (3) follow and Singapore (4) moves up one spot from 2017. Including Seoul (5), four out of five of the world’s most expensive cities for expats are in Asia.

Other cities in the top 10 are Shanghai (7), N’Djamena (8), Beijing (9) and Bern (10). The world’s least expensive cities for expats are Tashkent (209), Tunis (208) and Bishkek (207).

Four out of five of the world’s most expensive cities for expats are in Asia

New York (13) has dropped four places, but remains the most expensive city in the Americas. Zurich (3) remains the most expensive city in Europe, followed by Bern (10) and Geneva (11) – all in Switzerland.

Despite dropping from top spot on the global list, Luanda (6) remains the most expensive city for expats in Africa. N’Djamena (8) follows, rising seven places. Moving up 14 spots, Libreville (18) is the next African city on the list, followed by Brazzaville (19), which is up 11 places.

Mumbai (55) is India’s most expensive city, followed by New Delhi (103) and Chennai (144). Tel Aviv (16) remains the Middle East’s most expensive city for expats, followed by Dubai (26), Abu Dhabi (40) and Riyadh (45).

World’s Most expensive cities for expats ranking

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

RankCityCountry/Market
1Hong KongHKSAR
2TokyoJapan
3ZurichSwitzerland
4SingaporeSingapore
5SeoulSouth Korea
6LuandaAngola
7ShanghaiChina
8N’DjamenaChad
9BeijingChina
10BernSwitzerland
11GenevaSwitzerland
12ShenzhenChina
13New York CityUnited States
14CopenhagenDenmark
15GuangzhouChina
16Tel AvivIsrael
17MoscowRussia
18LibrevilleGabon
19BrazzavilleRepublic of the Congo
LondonUnited Kingdom
21VictoriaSeychelles
22NoumeaNew Caledonia
23OsakaJapan
24AbidjanCote d'Ivoire
25NanjingChina
26DubaiUnited Arab Emirates
27TaipeiTaiwan
28San FranciscoUnited States
29SydneyAustralia
TianjinChina
31ChengduChina
32DublinIreland
33MilanItaly
34ParisFrance
35Los AngelesUnited States
36QingdaoChina
37KinshasaDem. Rep. of the Congo
38ShenyangChina
39ViennaAustria
40Abu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
41NagoyaJapan
42LagosNigeria
43AshgabatTurkmenistan
YaoundeCameroon
45RiyadhSaudi Arabia
46RomeItaly
47OsloNorway
48BanguiCentral African Republic
49St. PetersburgRussia
50AmsterdamNetherlands
51ChicagoUnited States
52BangkokThailand
53HelsinkiFinland
54HonoluluUnited States
55MumbaiIndia
56WashingtonUnited States
57MunichGermany
58MelbourneAustralia
Sao PauloBrazil
60MiamiUnited States
61PerthAustralia
62DakarSenegal
63AccraGhana
64MadridSpain
65BeirutLebanon
66DhakaBangladesh
67BrusselsBelgium
68FrankfurtGermany
69SantiagoChile
70BostonUnited States
71BerlinGermany
LuxembourgLuxembourg
73DjiboutiDjibouti
DoualaCameroon
75MontevideoUruguay
76Buenos AiresArgentina
77CanberraAustralia
ManamaBahrain
79BarcelonaSpain
White PlainsUnited States
81AucklandNew Zealand
82DusseldorfGermany
83PragueCzech Republic
84BrisbaneAustralia
85DallasUnited States
86HoustonUnited States
87AdelaideAustralia
88HamburgGermany
89StockholmSweden
90SeattleUnited States
91YangonMyanmar
92RigaLatvia
93LisbonPortugal
94AmmanJordan
95AtlantaUnited States
95San JuanPuerto Rico
97MorristownUnited States
Port Of SpainTrinidad & Tobago
99AbujaNigeria
Rio De JaneiroBrazil
101WellingtonNew Zealand
102MinneapolisUnited States
103New DelhiIndia
104Pointe A PitreGuadeloupe
105LyonFrance
106Bandar Seri BegawanBrunei
ConakryGuinea
108StuttgartGermany
109TorontoCanada
VancouverCanada
111CotonouBenin
112AthensGreece
113BratislavaSlovakia
114Panama CityPanama
115DohaQatar
116DetroitUnited States
117JakartaIndonesia
JeddahSaudi Arabia
MuscatOman
120BamakoMali
121Kuwait CityKuwait
122St. LouisUnited States
123NairobiKenya
124Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam
125ClevelandUnited States
PittsburghUnited States
125Port Au PrinceHaiti
128BirminghamUnited Kingdom
CasablancaMorocco
130Guatemala CityGuatemala
PortlandUnited States
132LimaPeru
LjubljanaSlovenia
134AberdeenUnited Kingdom
134LomeTogo
OuagadougouBurkina Faso
137HanoiVietnam
138ManilaPhilippines
ZagrebCroatia
140TallinnEstonia
141San JoseCosta Rica
142Phnom PenhCambodia
143NiameyNiger
144ChennaiIndia
145Kuala LumpurMalaysia
145NurnbergGermany
147MontrealCanada
148GlasgowUnited Kingdom
VilniusLithuania
150LeipzigGermany
151BudapestHungary
152BelfastUnited Kingdom
153LimassolCyprus
154CalgaryCanada
WarsawPoland
156QuitoEcuador
157Mexico CityMexico
158BrasiliaBrazil
ColomboSri Lanka
160OttawaCanada
161Port LouisMauritius
Winston SalemUnited States
163IstanbulTurkey
164KingstonJamaica
165HarareZimbabwe
HavanaCuba
RabatMorocco
168BogotaColombia
169KigaliRwanda
170BengaluruIndia
Cape TownSouth Africa
172TiranaAlbania
173KievUkraine
174San SalvadorEl Salvador
175SofiaBulgaria
176BucharestRomania
177JohannesburgSouth Africa
178Santo DomingoDominican Republic
179MaputoMozambique
180Dar Es SalaamTanzania
181BelgradeSerbia
182KolkataIndia
183Addis AbabaEthiopia
AsuncionParaguay
185LusakaZambia
186BakuAzerbaijan
187AlmatyKazakhstan
188CairoEgypt
189GaboroneBotswana
190IslamabadPakistan
191SarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina
192KampalaUganda
193MonterreyMexico
194NouakchottMauritania
195AlgiersAlgeria
196WindhoekNamibia
197SkopjeMacedonia
198YerevanArmenia
199La PazBolivia
200ManaguaNicaragua
201TegucigalpaHonduras
202MinskBelarus
203TbilisiGeorgia
204BlantyreMalawi
205KarachiPakistan
206BanjulGambia
207BishkekKyrgyzstan
208TunisTunisia
209TashkentUzbekistan

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