A short while ago the consulting firm Mercer published a survey showing the cost of living in 214 cities across the world and how they compare with each other. The survey was carried out in order to help employers work out how much to pay their people overseas so that their purchasing power is maintained.
Relocation packages can often be a challenge for employers – finding the right mix of remuneration, insurance and extras can be quite a complex process. But with comparative data on the cost of living employers could find it easier to work out how far money is likely to go in different places.
So, what are the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates? At number one on the list is Tokyo – a result that won’t suprise many, given the city’s long-term reputation as having a high cost of living for executives.
While Tokyo may be expensive, though, it does have some extremely important benefits – not only is it one of the most exciting cities on the planet, it’s also been voted one of the word’s most ‘liveable’ cities. And for a city of its size, Tokyo is well known for having low crime rates.
Other expensive cities include the UK capital London at number 25 on the list, and everyone’s favourite destination – New York City – at 33. And given that these cities are also known for their high standard of living generally they’re the cities you’d expect to see in the top cities for expense.
But there are cities in Mercer’s survey that are scoring high for cost of living even though they’re not tourist hotspots. Luanda in Angola is currently placed second for expense and scoring very expensively for buying a pair of blue jeans as well as the cost of a month’s rent. But there are consolations for those who work in Luanda – petrol costs less than a third there than in Tokyo.
The ten cheapest cities, according to the survey were as follows:
La Paz (Bolivia)
And most inexpensive city in the survey …
Of course, cost of living is only one aspect of life as an expatriate in a foreign city – so the expense of one city may be offset by the quality of life it offers, while cities without as much infrastructure or luxury might attract people because of their charm and inexpensiveness. It’s also worth bearing in mind that since the benchmark for the survey was New York City, exchange rates come in to play meaning that the current weakness of the pound against the dollar makes any UK cities on the list look a little bit less expensive to live in than they could be in real terms.
Jenni Jones writes on behalf of AXA PPP International for a number of blogs and also writes on health and wellbeing for a range of websites in the UK.