List of most expensive cities

These are lists of the world's most expensive cities for expatriate employees (not residents), according to the Mercer,[1] Economist Intelligence Unit[2] and ECA International[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.

Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living ranking[2] is based on price data that are adjusted for recent exchange-rate movements. The price of housing, generally the largest cost of living, is not included as this tends to be provided by the company and does not factor in adjusting the salary of the expatriate employee.

Top ten locations surveyed (2013)[7]
Rank City Country
1 Tokyo  Japan[8]
2 Osaka  Japan
3 Sydney  Australia
4 Oslo  Norway
5 Melbourne  Australia
6 Singapore  Singapore
7 Zurich   Switzerland
8 Paris  France
9 Caracas  Venezuela
10 Geneva   Switzerland
Bottom ten locations surveyed (2013)[7]
Rank City Country
1 Karachi  Pakistan
1 Mumbai  India
3 New Delhi  India
4 Kathmandu    Nepal
5 Algiers  Algeria
6 Bucharest  Romania
7 Colombo  Sri Lanka
8 Panama City  Panama
9 Jeddah  Saudi Arabia
10 Tehran  Iran


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 (2013)[9]
Rank City Country Region
1 Luanda  Angola Middle East and Africa
2 Moscow  Russia Europe
3 Tokyo  Japan Asia Pacific
4 N'Djamena  Chad Middle East and Africa
5 Singapore  Singapore Asia Pacific
6 Hong Kong SAR  Hong Kong Asia Pacific
7 Geneva   Switzerland Europe
8 Zurich   Switzerland Europe
9 Bern   Switzerland Europe
Sydney  Australia Asia Pacific

ECA International

Every March and September, ECA International calculates the cost of living for expatriates in almost 400 cities. 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 (2012)[3]
Ranking City Country
1 Tehran  Iran
2 Nagoya  Japan
3 Oslo  Norway
4 Luanda  Angola
5 Yokohama  Japan
6 Kobe  Japan
7 Caracas  Venezuela
8 Stavanger  Norway
9 Zürich   Switzerland
10 Geneva   Switzerland
11 Bern   Switzerland
12 Basel   Switzerland
13 Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea
14 Juba  South Sudan
15 Moscow  Russia
16 Sydney  Australia
17 Copenhagen  Denmark
18 Canberra  Australia
19 Kinshasa  Democratic Republic of the Congo
20 Stockholm  Sweden

See also


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