Expat FAQ

Do you have a general question on expatriation? FAQs give you answers to the most frequent questions: Accommodation.

What are the most expensive cities to live in?

What city takes top spot as most expensive changes frequently, but the top spots usually go to the same few cities with occasional upsets. Everyone has different standards of living, but it is important to know what exactly you are getting into when you move to a city with a high cost of living.

Cost of Living

The definition of cost of living is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and health care. Cost of living is often used when comparing how expensive it is to live in one city versus another.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living survey offers a report and analysis to compare the cost of living in 140 cities in 93 countries.

    Cities with Highest Cost of Living
  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Oslo, Norway
  3. Osaka, Japan
  4. Paris, France
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Sydney, Australia
  7. Melbourne, Australia
  8. Frankfurt, Germany
  9. Geneva, Switzerland
  10. Singapore, Singapore


The report was calculated with over 50,000 individual prices from supermarkets, domestic help, transport and utility bills—in each city. Prices gathered are then converted into a central currency (US dollars) using a prevailing exchange rate and weighted in order to achieve comparative indices. The cost-of-living index uses an identical set of weights which is internationally based and not geared towards the spending pattern of any specific nationality.

Expats Costs to Consider

Factors that concern expats include travel costs to return home, maintaining a standard of living similar to their home, differences in monetary value, consumer confidence, exchange rates of the country's currency, and housing costs. For instance, to maintain a secure household with all of the accustomed standards of living for an expat in Africa will be much more than a native. Housing costs often encompass pricey security measures, expats commonly only live in more expensive areas of the city, and higher standards result in requiring luxury housing.

    Mercer Human Resource Consulting's List of Most Expensive Expat Cities
  1. Angola, Luanda
  2. Tokyo, Japan
  3. N'Djamena, Chad
  4. Moscow, Russia
  5. Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Osaka, Japan
  7. Libreville, Gabon
  8. Zurich, Switzerland
  9. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  10. Copenhagen, Denmark

This list does not account for cost-of-living savings accrued to local citizens through government-subsidized housing, health care, and education, differences in taxation, and many other factors irrelevant to expatriates.


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