The most expensive cities to be an expat

Moving house can be a difficult experience in a number of ways and it certainly is not too light on the wallet. So it stands to reason that if you are considering your options for a new life overseas, you might want to take into consideration just what sort of living expenses you could be facing once you are settled into your new home. It’s all very well to look forward to a lucrative new work contract in your dazzling city of choice but if your accommodation and daily expenses are through the roof it might change the way you live your life abroad. Not to mention the added expense of quality schooling for your children.
We’ve investigated the most expensive cities to be an expat so that you can decide whether the gains outweigh the costs…
The Economist Intelligence Unit
Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit composes a report on the most expensive cities to live in around the world. The report, entitled ‘Worldwide Cost of Living’ examines factors such as the price of food, fuel and how much people are likely to earn in order to draw its conclusions.
The Asian powerhouse, Hong Kong checked in as the third most expensive city in the world this year, having climbed seven places in the ranking over the past 12 months due to the high cost of housing and rising living costs. Before you write Hong Kong off completely, bear in mind it was also voted the eleventh best destination in the world according to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2016 and rated especially highly in disposable income, wage growth, career progression and overall financial experience.
Zurich took the second place spot, reportedly due to the detachment of the Swiss franc from the euro as well as “structurally high income and price levels”. However, this popular Swiss city was also voted second best city in the world for quality of life, according to Mercer.
Finally, retaining the dubious crown of most expensive city in the world for the third year running was the Asian tiger, Singapore. However, the Economist Intelligence Unit admitted that Singapore does offer some relative value for certain products such as general groceries, and it was voted the number one destination in the world by the Expat Explorer survey and second only to Switzerland when it came to the Economics League Table.
The annual Cost of Living report from Mercer, which assists employers in designing wages and benefits packages for expats around the world, revealed similar findings. Singapore dropped to fourth most expensive city in this league table whilst Zurich rose to third place. The Angolan capital, Luanda, which had consistently topped this list over the past few years, dropped to second place due to the weakening of its local currency, leaving the path clear for Hong Kong to take centre-stage as the most expensive city for expats.
A few of the reported costs associated with Hong Kong were approximately £9,193 rent for a three-bedroom house; £5,183 rent for a 2-bedroom apartment with no furniture in a good neighbourhood; and £5.94 for a cup of coffee.
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Information correct at time of publication.