The 10 most expensive cities in the world for expat workers

While it may not seem the case for locals, Australia is becoming an increasingly affordable place to live for expat workers.

That’s the findings from the 2015 Mercer cost of living survey released overnight, with Australian capital cities tumbling down the rankings on the back of a lower Australian dollar.

The survey, based “on an international Tbasket of goods and services reflecting realistic spending habits established through years of extensive expatriate research”, calculates the cost of living expenses for expatriates across 207 cities globally using factual and objective price information, according to Mercer.

Here’s where the Australian capital cities ranked in 2015 survey. Those for 2014 are bracketed.

  • Sydney 31 (26)
  • Melbourne 47 (33)
  • Perth 48 (37)
  • Brisbane 66 (52)
  • Adelaide 71 (59)

With Australian cities slipping down the rankings, who’s taking their place? According to Mercer, it’s Asian and European cities.

“Asian and European cities –- particularly Hong Kong (2), Zurich (3), Singapore (4), and Geneva (5) – top the list of most expensive cities for expatriates. The costliest city for the third consecutive year is Luanda (1), the capital of Angola. Despite being recognized as a relatively inexpensive city, the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in this country are available at a steep price”.

The least expensive cities for expats were Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Windhoek (Namibia) and Karachi (Pakistan).

The 10 most expensive cities are listed below.

  • 1. Luanda, Angola
  • 2. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 3. Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4. Singapore, Singapore
  • 5. Geneva, Switzerland
  • 6. Shanghai, China
  • 7. Beijing, China
  • 8. Seoul, South Korea
  • 9. Bern, Switzerland
  • 10. N’Djamena, Chad

Clearly currency fluctuations play a significant role in the year-to-year moves in the Mercer survey. Still, it demonstrates how a lower currency can make your country more competitive from an international perspective, and why the RBA would like to see the Australian dollar continue to move lower.

You can read the full report here.

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