Most expensive expatriate destinations


The Japanese capital, Tokyo, is no longer the world’s costliest place to live for expatriate workers, according to this year’s Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.

The dubious honour has now been claimed Luanda in Africa, with Tokyo coming up second. Cities in Africa and Asia dominated the top ten, with Chad’s capital, Ndjamena, coming third, Osaka in Japan at six and Hong Kong at eight.

The Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey examines living costs in 214 cities across the globe, looking at the comparative prices for 200 different commonly used items. Contrary to popular thought, developing countries were more expensive than cities with an expensive reputation, like New York which ranked 27.

Nathalie Constantin-Metral, a senior researcher at Mercer, said: “Many people assume that cities in the developing world are cheap but this isn't necessarily true for expatriates working there. In some African cities, the cost of this can be extraordinarily high - particularly the cost of good, secure accommodation.”

The items checked in the survey include foodstuffs, transport, clothes, housing, entertainment and household goods. The increased presence of Africa shows that the continent is raising its economic profile: “We've seen demand increase for information on African cities from across the business spectrum. This includes mining, financial services, airlines, manufacturers, utilities and energy companies,” Constantin-Metral added.

Cities in Europe that ranked fairly high included Oslo at 11, Milan at 15 and London and Paris sharing a joint placing at 17.

Popular Middle Eastern expat destinations, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, charted at 50 and 55 respectively. Constantin-Metral said that “Accommodation costs have continued to decrease in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, driving down the cost of living for expats.”

The world’s cheapest expat destination is Karachi in Pakistan.

Learn more about worldwide expatriate hotspots by reading our city guides.