These rankings measure the comparative cost of over 200 items, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. New York is used as the base city, comparing 214 cities against it.

Author: Gilly Wright
Project Coordinator: Denise Bedell, S.J. Yun

TOP 50 CITIES WITH HIGHEST COST OF LIVING

Are these cities in countries with the most Economic Freedom?

Ranking as of
July  2014

City

Country

Previous Ranking
2013

  1 LUANDA ANGOLA 1
  2 N'DJAMENA CHAD 4
  3 HONG KONG HONG KONG 6
  4 SINGAPORE SINGAPORE 5
  5 ZURICH SWITZERLAND 8
  6 GENEVA SWITZERLAND 7
  7 TOKYO JAPAN 3
  8 BERN SWITZERLAND 9
  9 MOSCOW RUSSIA 2
  10 SHANGHAI CHINA 14
  11 BEIJING CHINA 15
  12 LONDON UNITED KINGDOM 25
  13 VICTORIA SEYCHELLES 22
  14 SEOUL SOUTH KOREA 13
  15 COPENHAGEN DENMARK 17
  16 NEW YORK CITY, NY UNITED STATES 24
  17 SHENZHEN CHINA 29
  18 TEL AVIV ISRAEL 32
  19 LIBREVILLE GABON 21
  20 KINSHASA CONGO 33
  21 OLSO NORWAY 11
  22 NOUMÉA NEW CALEDONIA 45
  23 OSAKA JAPAN 12
  24 GUANGZHOU CHINA 35
  25 LAGOS NIGERIA 36
  26 SYDNEY AUSTRALIA 9
  27 PARIS FRANCE 37
  28 BRAZZAVILLE CONGO 40
  29 BAMAKO MALI 39
  30 MILAN ITALY 41
  31 ROME ITALY 44
  32 VIENNA AUSTRIA 48
  33 MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA 16
  34 CONAKRY GUINEA 46
  35 ST. PETERSBURG RUSSIA 23
  36 ABUJA NIGERIA 49
  37 PERTH AUSTRALIA 18
  38 STOCKHOLM SWEDEN 42
  39 AMSTERDAM NETHERLANDS 52
  40 DAKAR SENEGAL 51
  40 NAGOYA JAPAN 26
 42 HELSINKI FINLAND 55
  43 ABIDJAN COTE D'IVOIRE 38
  44 DOUALA CAMEROON 46
  44 YAOUNDE CAMEROON 55
  46 BAKU AZERBAIJAN 57
  47 NANJING CHINA 69
  48 QINGDAO CHINA 65
  49 SAO PAULO BRAZIL 48
  50 TIANJIN CHINA 67

RANKING CHANGES

In Mercer’s Global Cost of Living Rankings 2014 two African cities, not known as wealthy locales top the list of most expensive cities for expats to live. Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row followed by N’Djamena, Chad and their high costs for expats is because in places where a significant percentage of the local population lives under the poverty line, adequate accommodation, security measures, and imported consumer goods are all luxuries, which cost - a lot.

Less surprisingly, three Swiss cities – Zürich (5), Geneva (6) and Bern (8) - make the top 10, as do three Asian cities with costly reputations – Hong Kong (3), Singapore (4) and Tokyo (7).

Shanghai (10) became the first city in mainland China to make the top 10, due largely to the strength of the yuan. Currency fluctuations impact on inflation, goods and services: making many African, European and Asian cities more expensive for expats.

This cuts both ways, however and both Tokyo (7 from 3) and Moscow (9 from 2) became slightly less expensive, as both the yen and ruble are weaker than they were last year.

Large increases in both accommodation cost and demand, coupled with strong local currencies saw several cities soar up the list, including Dhaka and Nairobi (joint 117th last year) and Dubai (67) who jumped to 37, 30 and 23, respectively.

Both London (12 from 25) and Paris (27 from 37) got significantly more expensive since last year, while expats in all ranked Australian cities saw their Australian dollars stretch a lot further.

Ed Hannibal, partner and global leader for Mercer’s Mobility practice says rankings in many regions were affected by recent world events, “including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices.”

In the Americas, Canadian cities dropped in the rankings as the Canadian dollar weakened against the US dollar, while US cities climbed the rankings due to the relative stability of the US dollar against other major currencies

Western European cities have all risen in the rankings mainly due to the strengthening of local currencies against the US dollar, with UK and Germany experiencing some the biggest surges in the ranking. Most cities in Eastern and Central Europe, however, saw a drop in ranking as a result of local currencies depreciating against the US dollar.

In the Middle East, Tel Aviv (18) is the most expensive city, followed by Beirut (63), Dubai (67) and Abu Dhabi (68).

In Asia, Japanese cities have dropped in the ranking this year as a result of the yen’s weakening against the US dollar, while Chinese cities jumped in the due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan.

Karachi (211) in Pakistan is the least expensive city for expats and several Indian cities also feature low in the rankings.