Zurich becomes most expensive city in Europe for expats

by Ray Clancy on June 15, 2015

Shanghai has become Asia Pacific’s most expensive location for expats for the first time while Zurich, Switzerland has been named as the most expensive location in Europe.

The weakening of the Norwegian Krone in response to the weakened oil sector contributed to Oslo’s tumble down the ranking from 1st last year to 11th position globally this year.


Zurich, Switzerland has been named the most expensive expat city in Europe

The findings from the latest Cost of Living survey by ECA International, a global provider of knowledge, information and technology for the management and assignment of employees¸ also shows that London has fallen two spots to 48th.

Moscow has moved considerably, down to 146 from 22nd last year. This is put down to international sanctions and oil prices affecting the rouble. Additionally, the Euro’s significant depreciation has seen all Eurozone locations drop down the ranking with Spanish and German locations among those falling hardest. Madrid has fallen from 86th place to 160 and Munich, which ranked 54 last year is in 121st position.

Shanghai has become Asia Pacific’s most expensive location for expatriates for the first time. Globally, the Chinese city has moved into the top 10 to eighth position, up from last year’s 18th spot.

‘Some may be surprised to see mainland Chinese cities feature so high up the ranking. It is of course possible to buy many items cheaply in China. However, when comparing cost of living for the purposes of expat packages, as we do, we look at internationally recognised quality brands wherever possible in order to make like-for-like comparisons,’ said Lee Quane, ECA regional director for Asia.

‘Over the past few years the availability in China of these usually more expensive items has increased, pushing up the overall cost of goods in our shopping basket. A strong [yuan] has also put upward pressure on costs for many companies sending staff into China,’ he added.

Tokyo, which topped the Asia Pacific ranking a year ago has dropped from 11 to 16 and Hong Kong, Asia Pacific’s fourth most expensive location has entered the top 15 leaping up from last year’s 29th position to 12th place.

Australian locations continue to fall down the ranking, which is said to be a reflection of the weakened Australian dollar as growth there slows. Sydney currently ranks 57th globally down from last year’s 38th place.

Manhattan is the most expensive location in North America and the report says that the strengthening of the US dollar between surveys has seen locations across the United States climb the ranking. Manhattan has risen to 20th place globally up from last year’s 39th spot. Conversely, cities in Canada have dropped in the ranking. Vancouver, the most expensive city in Canada for expats has fallen six places to 94th globally.

Buenos Aires is the most expensive location in Latin America. The Argentine capital ranks 40th globally, in sharp contrast to last year when it was 134th. Although the peso weakened against major currencies between annual surveys, prices of items in ECA’s shopping increased 25% on average during the same period.

Despite significant price increases Brazilian cities continue to fall down the ranking as the value of the réal depreciates even faster. Rio de Janeiro, which ranked just outside the top 50 only two years ago is now at 162nd. Venezuela has not been included in this ranking due to the multiple exchange rate systems in operation there leading to considerably varied rankings.

In the Middle East, Tel Aviv is the most expensive location, despite falling three spots to 24th place. Elsewhere in the region a number of locations where the currency is pegged to the US dollar have climbed the ranking dramatically, including Dubai at 85 and Doha at 89.

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