Luanda is most expensive city in the world for expat assignments

by Ray Clancy on August 1, 2017

Luanda, the capital city of Angola, is the most expansive city for expats sent on international assignments, followed by Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore, according to the latest global cost rankings.

The high cost of living in Luanda is largely due to costs imposed by the Angolian Government on goods and services to expats as goods are taxed at a higher rate and security is a must.


While in Hong Kong it is the lack housing supply pushing up renting costs that makes living there so expensive, the details from the Mercer Cost of Living report shows.

The report also shows that the world’s least expensive cities are spread largely in Central and Eastern Europe, with Central America and Africa having three of the lowest ranked cities. Tunis is the least expensive city, followed by Bishkek, the capital and largest city of Kyrgyzstan, then Skopje and Windhoek.

Aside from Zurich, two other Swiss cities make the top ten. Geneva ranks at number seven globally and number two in the region, while Bern is listed as number 10 globally and number three locally.

London has seen its place in the rankings fall to 30, largely due to the drop in the value of Sterling since the decision by the UK to leave the European Union and Aberdeen and Birmingham also fell to 61 and 51 respectively. Paris fell 18 places to 62 while various German cities ranked relatively far down in the global rankings with Munich at 98, Frankfurt 117 and Berlin 120.

‘Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar, which pushed most Western European cities down in the ranking. Additionally, other factors like the Eurozone’s economy have impacted these cities,’ said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer.

The US saw a number of high level entries, including New York City at nine globally and most expensive for the region. San Francisco is second regionally and 22 globally with the high cost of housing and everyday living cited as expensive. The least expensive places in the US remain Portland at 115 and Winston Salem at 140.

Asia has five of the world’s top 10 most expensive cities, including Hong Kong in second globally and Tokyo third while Singapore is fifth, Seoul sixth and Shanghai eighth. ‘The strengthening of the Japanese yen along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market pushed Japanese cities up in the ranking,’ Constantin-Métral explained.

However, the majority of Chinese cities fell in the ranking due to the weakening of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar, but in the region Bangkok jumped seven spots to 67 and Jakarta and Hanoi rank 88 and 100 respectively, up by five and six places respectively.

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