mong 209 global cities, Hong Kong has reclaimed its title as the most expensive one to live in for expatriates, according to a survey published this week. Meanwhile, both Shanghai and Beijing have made the top 10.
The 24th annual Cost of Living survey by the global HR consulting firm Mercer compared the prices of 200 different items — including rental costs, transport, meals, and entertainment — to rank some of the world’s biggest and most desirable cities by how much it costs expats to live a comfortable life there.
The city of Hong Kong bested Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore, and Seoul for this year’s top spot. This comes as no surprise with Hong Kong’s infamously high rental costs. According to the report, a two-bedroom apartment of “international standards” costs a whopping $7,641 (50,470 yuan) a month in Hong Kong, compared with $5,700 (37,585 yuan) in New York. However, the survey did at least rank the city’s beer and burgers as a relative “bargain.”
Hong Kong last topped Mercer’s list in 2016, trading places back and forth with Luanda in Angola, a city which fell all the way to 6th in this year’s survey.
As for our fair city, Shanghai climbed back up one spot from last year to 7th place. While living by local standards in Shanghai can be quite inexpensive, living a life of luxury here is a different story entirely. A pair of designer blue jeans in Shanghai costs around $140 (922 yuan), more than double the price in New York at $58 (382 yuan). Also, 1 kg of white toast will set you back $8.73 (57 yuan), compared to $2.36 in London (15 yuan).
Meanwhile, Beijing placed 9th in this year’s survey, right between N’Djamena in Chad and Bern in Switzerland. Four out of the top five most expensive cities for expatriates are located in Asia and three out of the top 10 are in China.
“Across the board, currency fluctuations and inflation for goods and services drive up the cost of living in Asian cities,” said Mario Ferraro, Mercer’s global mobility practice leader for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey.
The bottom of the list mostly consists of developing and war-ravaged cities. This year, the least costly city for working abroad is Tashkent (209), slightly edging out Tunis (208) and Bishkek (207).