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These are the 50 costliest places for expats to live and work

·2-min read
Aerial drone shot a Hong Kong Corporate Buildings streets
Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive place for employees sent abroad to work, according to a new study. (PHOTO: Getty Commercial)

By Alex Millson

(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive place for employees sent abroad to work, according to a new study comparing the prices of 200 goods and products in more than 400 cities.

Switzerland was hot on Hong Kong’s heels, with four cities — Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern — ranking second to fifth place respectively in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey 2022.

Three other Asian Cities — Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing — made the top 10, filling 8th, 9th and 10th spots respectively. High rankings for many Asian cities were driven by inflation and strong currencies, the management consultancy said in its report.

At the other end of the table, the cheapest places for expats to live were Turkey’s Ankara, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

Elsewhere, Mercer reported:

  • Israel’s Tel Aviv, in 6th place, is the priciest place in the Middle East

  • New York City, 7th, is the most expensive city in the Americas

  • London came in at number 15

  • Four Chinese cities made the top 20, propelled by the strong yuan

  • Japanese and Korean cities became relatively more affordable due to weaker currencies

The report said global issues including Covid-19, war in Ukraine, exchange rate fluctuations and widespread inflation were affecting employees’ salaries and savings, while the number of professionals relocating to Asia over the past 18 months had fallen.

Tracey Ma, Mercer’s Regional Mobility Leader for Asia Pacific, said a talent shortage in developed countries, which rely heavily on foreign workers, could become an issue exacerbated by higher living costs.

“International assignment patterns are evolving faster than before” said Ma. She added that the rise of remote and flexible work means companies need to rethink their approach to managing a global workforce in order to attract and retain talent while ensuring cost efficiency.

Mercer measured the comparative cost of more than 200 things — including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment — to come up with its ranking.

Here are the top 50 most expensive cities for foreign workers:

  1. Hong Kong, China

  2. Zurich, Switzerland

  3. Geneva, Switzerland

  4. Basel, Switzerland

  5. Bern, Switzerland

  6. Tel Aviv, Israel

  7. New York City, US

  8. Singapore

  9. Tokyo, Japan

  10. Beijing, China

  11. Copenhagen, Denmark

  12. Shanghai, China

  13. Shenzhen, China

  14. Seoul, South Korea

  15. London, UK

  16. Nassau, Bahamas

  17. Los Angeles, US

  18. Guangzhou, China

  19. San Francisco, US

  20. Honolulu, US

  21. Vienna, Austria

  22. Qingdao, China

  23. Bangui, Central African Republic

  24. Libreville, Gabon

  25. Amsterdam, Netherlands

  26. Nanjing, China

  27. Oslo, Norway

  28. Taipei, Taiwan

  29. Washington DC, US

  30. Boston, US

  31. Dubai, UAE

  32. Miami, US

  33. Munich, Germany

  34. Busan, South Korea

  35. Paris, France

  36. Chicago, US

  37. Osaka, Japan

  38. Victoria, Seychelles

  39. Brussels, Belgium

  40. Shenyang, China

  41. Djibouti

  42. Atlanta, US

  43. Helsinki, Finland

  44. Chengdu, China

  45. Seattle, US

  46. Berlin, Germany

  47. The Hague, Netherlands

  48. Milan, Italy

  49. Dublin, Ireland

  50. Yokohama, Japan

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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