In 2023, Mercer’s annual Cost of Living survey revealed the world’s cheapest cities to live in and the most expensive cities for ex-pats. Explore places according to your budget.
According to the report, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Zurich ranked as the top three most expensive cities for foreign workers. The survey compared the prices of 200 goods and products in over 400 cities, and it highlighted the following findings:
The survey indicated several factors influenced expatriate salaries and savings, including the Russia-Ukraine crisis, more contagious Covid-19 variants, exchange rate fluctuations, and widespread inflation.
Global inflation was projected to decrease to 7% in 2023 and decline to 4.9% in 2024. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasted headline inflation of 5.9% in 2023, while core inflation, removing volatile food and energy prices, was expected to reach 4%.
Dubai witnessed a notable rise in the cost of living, climbing from the 31st to the 18th most expensive city for expatriates. Similarly, Abu Dhabi’s ranking improved from 61st to 43rd. Mercer highlighted the impact of rental costs on the rankings, with Singapore and Dubai experiencing significant increases in rental prices. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi demonstrated a lower impact, with more modest changes in housing costs.
Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia ranked 85th and 101st in the Middle East, respectively. Manama in Bahrain secured the 98th position. Other notable cities in the region included Amman in Jordan (110), Doha in Qatar (126), Muscat in Oman (130), and Kuwait City (131).
Let’s discover the most expensive cities in the world.
1. Hong Kong: Known for its high cost of living, Hong Kong topped the list as the most expensive city for expats.
2. Singapore: Singapore secured the second spot, reflecting its upscale lifestyle and premium living expenses.
3. Zurich, Switzerland: With its affluent reputation, Zurich emerged as the third most expensive city globally.
4. Geneva, Switzerland: Geneva took the fourth position, highlighting Switzerland’s overall high living costs.
5. Basel, Switzerland: Basel ranked fifth, further reinforcing Switzerland’s expensive nature.
6. New York City, US: Among the top 10 globally, New York City claimed the title of the most expensive city in the Americas.
7. Bern, Switzerland: Bern secured the seventh position, adding to Switzerland’s strong representation in the top rankings.
8. Tel Aviv, Israel: Tel Aviv ranked eighth, making it the costliest city in the Middle East for international workers.
9. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen stood at the ninth spot, showcasing its relatively high cost of living.
10. Nassau, Bahamas: The Bahamas’ capital city, Nassau, rounded off the top 10 with its luxurious lifestyle.
Let’s discover the cities that have the cheapest rent. The following cities have been identified as the top 10 most affordable destinations for expatriates in 2023:
1. Islamabad, Pakistan: Islamabad ranks as the most budget-friendly city for expatriates. You may also visit Pakistan’s Northern Areas.
2. Karachi, Pakistan: Karachi follows closely, providing cost-effective living options for foreign workers.
3. Havana, Cuba: Expats can enjoy affordable living in Havana, making it an attractive destination.
4. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek offers a low-cost lifestyle, making it appealing for expatriates.
5. Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Dushanbe provides affordable living standards suitable for ex-pats on a budget.
6. Windhoek, Namibia: Windhoek offers a cost-effective environment, combining affordability and quality of life.
7. Ankara, Turkey: Expatriates can find reasonable living expenses in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey.
8. Durban, South Africa: Durban presents an affordable option for expats seeking a comfortable lifestyle.
9. Tunis, Tunisia: Tunis offers a favorable cost of living, attracting expatriates looking for affordability.
10. Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Tashkent rounds off the list, providing affordable living conditions for expats.
These cities present excellent opportunities for foreign workers seeking affordability without compromising their quality of life.
Apart from Switzerland and Denmark, other expensive cities in Europe included London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Prague, and Helsinki. Mercer’s findings also highlighted the inclusion of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu in the top 20 expensive cities globally. Additionally, Asian cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, and Shenzhen made the list.
Among the high-ranking African cities were Bangui, Djibouti, and Luanda in Angola. These findings assist employers in determining appropriate compensation packages for international assignments, considering factors like currency fluctuations, cost inflation, and accommodation expenses.