According to Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey, Hong Kong tops the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in second position.

Tokyo and Zurich remain in third and fourth positions, respectively, whereas Singapore is in fifth, down two places from last year. New York City ranked sixth, moving up from ninth place.

Other cities appearing in the top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates are Shanghai (7), Bern (8), Geneva (9), and Beijing (10).

The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer’s survey, are Tunis (209), Windhoek (208), Tashkent and Bishkek, which tied to rank 206.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that sending and keeping employees on international assignments is a huge responsibility and a difficult task to manage,” said Ilya Bonic, Career President and Head of Mercer Strategy. “Rather than bet on a dramatic resurgence of mobility, organizations should prepare for the redeployment of their mobile workforces, leading with empathy and understanding that not all expatriates will be ready or willing to go abroad.”

“Border closings, flight interruptions, mandatory confinements, and other short-term disruptions have affected not only the cost of goods and services but also the quality of living of assignees,” said Mr. Bonic.

Climate change, issues related to environmental footprint, and health system challenges have pushed multinationals to consider how a city’s efforts around sustainability can impact the living conditions for their expatriate workers. Cities with a strong sustainability focus can greatly improve living standards, which can in turn improve employee well-being and engagement.”

Ilya Bonic, Career President and Head of Mercer Strategy.

Six of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia. Hong Kong (1) retained its spot as the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally due to currency movements measured against the US dollar and driving up the cost of living locally. This global financial center is followed by Ashgabat (2) Tokyo (3) Singapore (5) Shanghai (7) and Beijing (10). Mumbai (60) is India’s most expensive city while Kolkata (185) is the least expensive Indian city ranked.

Australian cities have fallen in the ranking this year as the local currency has depreciated against the US dollar. Sydney (66), Australia’s most expensive ranked city for expatriates, experienced a drop of sixteen places. The least expensive city in the region, Adelaide fell seventeen places to rank 126.

Rank City
20192020
11HONG KONGHONG KONG (SAR)
72ASHGABATTURKMENISTAN
23TOKYOJAPAN
54ZURICHSWITZERLAND
35SINGAPORESINGAPORE
96NEW YORK CITYUNITED STATES
67SHANGHAICHINA
128BERNSWITZERLAND
139GENEVASWITZERLAND
810BEIJINGCHINA
411SEOULSOUTH KOREA
1512TEL AVIVISRAEL
1013SHENZHENCHINA
1414VICTORIASEYCHELLES
1115NDJAMENACHAD
1616SAN FRANCISCOUNITED STATES
1817LOS ANGELESUNITED STATES
2518LAGOSNIGERIA
2319LONDONUNITED KINGDOM
1720GUANGZHOUCHINA
2721MOSCOWRUSSIA
1922OSAKAJAPAN
2123DUBAIUNITED ARAB EMIRATES
2224KINSHASADEM. REP. OF THE CONGO
2025COPENHAGENDENMARK
3326NAGOYAJAPAN
4726DHAKABANGLADESH
3528TAIPEITAIWAN
3828HONOLULUUNITED STATES
3730CHICAGOUNITED STATES
3531RIYADHSAUDI ARABIA
4232WASHINGTONUNITED STATES
2433LIBREVILLEGABON
2734NANJINGCHINA
4035BANGKOKTHAILAND

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