Tokyo for long ranked as the most expensive city in the world for expatriates, is no longer in US dollar terms and in Europe, the fall in the euro versus the dollar has kept cities such as Dublin and Paris looking cheap.
Paris ranked at 46 in 2015 dropped by 19 places on a year ago, while Vienna, at number 56, fell by 24 places compared with 2014 and Rome, at number 59, fell 28 places. In Germany, Munich, at number 87, Frankfurt, at 98 and Berlin, ranked at 106 in 2015, also fell sharply in the rankings, according to an annual survey.
Dublin is the only Eurozone city to move up the rankings this year.
The main factor driving Dublin’s position is the cost of expatriate rental accommodation. This reflects the shortage of housing in the Dublin area and the recovery of the economy.
According to Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living Survey of 207 cities, Asian and European cities – particularly Hong Kong (2), Zurich (3), Singapore (4), and Geneva (5) – top the list of the 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.
Other cities appearing in the top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates are Shanghai (6), Beijing (7), and Seoul (8) in Asia; Bern (9); and N’Djamena (10). The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, are Bishkek (207), Windhoek (206), and Karachi (205).
London is the 12th most expensive city with Birmingham in 80th position, Aberdeen at number 82, Glasgow at 109 and Belfast placed at number 127.
US cities in the rankings have risen by an average of 36 places. New York is the most expensive US city, unchanged with a 16th rank, followed by Los Angeles, which jumped to 36th from 62nd. Similarly, the strength of the renminbi saw China’s cities rise on average by 18 places.
The biggest faller in the top 10 was Moscow, which plunged from ninth to 50th, as the result of the sharp fall in the ruble following the imposition of economic sanctions.
Five of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia. Hong Kong (2) is the most expensive city as a result of its currency pegged to the US dollar and driving up the cost of living locally. This global financial centre is followed by Singapore (4), Shanghai (6), Beijing (7), and Seoul (8) – all climbing in the ranking with the exception of Singapore which remained steady. Tokyo (11) dropped four places.
Australian cities have continued to fall in the ranking due to the depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar. Sydney (31), Australia’s most expensive city for expatriates dropped 5 places in the ranking along with Melbourne (47) and Perth (48) which fell 14 and 11 spots, respectively.
India’s most expensive city, Mumbai (74), climbed 66 places in the ranking due to its rapid economic growth, inflation on the goods and services basket, and a stable currency against the US dollar. This most populous city in India is followed by New Delhi (132) and Chennai (157) which rose in the ranking by 25 and 28 spots, respectively. Bangalore (183) and Kolkata (193), the least expensive Indian cities, climbed in the ranking, as well.
Kuala Lumpur is at 113.
The survey includes 207 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. 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 cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.
Irish standard of living in 2014 below Euro Area average, Italian level; Prices 5th highest in EU28