Asia cities dominate, Oz cities move up latest Mercer cost ranking

Asian cities account for half of the ten most expensive cities in the world for expats, according to Mercer’s latest cost of living survey, while four of Australia’s major cities moved between 17 and 31 places higher up the Mercer ranking than they stood at a year ago.

Mumbai was another big mover, edging up 25 places to 57th place, fueled by the Indian city’s booming economy, according to Mercer.

The most expensive city in the world on this year’s list is Luanda, the capital of Angola, which was in second place last year; this year it displaced Hong Kong, which slid into second place. Tokyo was third, followed by Zurich, Singapore, and Seoul. (See chart, below.)

Of the Australian cities, Adelaide moved up the list the most, 31 places, to 77th place from 102nd; it was followed in terms of movement up the ranks by Canberra, up 27 places, to 71st; Melborne, up 25 places, to 46th; and Sydney, up 17 places, to 25th.

Mercer, a New York City-based subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan, conducted its survey in March. It covers 209 cities around the world, and uses as its base point of comparison the city of New York, which this year was ranked 9th, up from 11th last year. The Mercer researchers look at the cost of more than 200 good and services expats normally fork out for, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

In a statement accompanying the results, Mercer noted that the strengthening of the Australian dollar had contributed to the rise in the Australian cities’ rankings.

Likewise, Mercer principal Nathalie Constantin-Métral, who is responsibile for compiling the annual survey, said the strengthening of the Japanese yen over the past year,  along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market in Japan, had helped to push Japanese cities up in the ranking.

“However, the majority of Chinese cities fell in the ranking, due to the weakening of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar,” she added.

The UK’s major cities fell in the ranking, compared with last year, a a result of the EU referendum, which has weakened the country’s currency, Kate Fitzpatrick, global mobility practice leader at Mercer for the UK and Ireland, said.

“Aberdeen saw the second biggest drop in the overall global rankings, only behind Cairo, due to a significant softening in the housing market as a result of the slow-down in the energy sector.

“However, London did not drop as far as [might have been] expected, with steep prices keeping London as one of the most expensive cities for expatriates worldwide.

“The capital’s rental costs remain at the higher end globally, and have remained stable, or increased slightly over the last year, as construction cannot keep up with demand.”

To see more about the survey, and to register with Mercer to obtain a copy of the full list, click here. 

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