Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Thinking of moving abroad? The most expensive cities for expats revealed

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Hong Kong is the most expensive city in the world for an expat to live in, knocking Luanda, the capital of Angola, off the top spot, according to research.

Tokyo and Zurich took second and third positions, respectively, and Singapore came in fourth, up one place from last year.

The 24th annual Cost of Living Survey by advisory firm Mercer is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation packages for their expat employees. New York City is used as the base for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The survey includes 209 cities globally and compares the cost of more than 200 items in each location including housing, transportation, food, clothing and entertainment.

Other cities to make the top 10 were Seoul, Luanda, Shanghai, N’Djamena, Beijing and Bern.

The world’s least expensive cities for expats were Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Tunis, and Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.


The survey found that Western European cities have all risen in the rankings as a result of strong local currencies against the US dollar and the cost of goods and services.

In the UK, Birmingham went up 19 places from last year to 128, Belfast jumped 18 spots to 152, and Aberdeen climbed 12 places to 134.

London jumped 10 spots to rank 19.

Other cities that jumped in the ranking include Paris (34) up 28 places, Rome (46) up 34 spots, Madrid (64) up 47 spots and Vienna (39) up 39 places.

A few cities in Eastern and Central Europe, including Moscow, St Petersburg and Kiev fell in this year’s ranking because of local currencies losing value against the US dollar.