Top 10 most expensive cities dominated by Africa, Europe and Asia


Top 10 most expensive cities dominated by Africa, Europe and Asia

Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, while Karachi is ranked as the least expensive, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer. The survey found that Luanda is three times as costly as Karachi.

Tokyo is in second position, with Ndjamena in Chad in third place. Moscow is in fourth position, followed by Geneva in fifth.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.

New York is used as the base city for the index and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expats - plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

  • Africa: For the first time, the ranking of the world’s top 10 most expensive cities includes three African urban centres - Luanda (1st) in Angola, Ndjamena (3rd) in Chad and Libreville (7th) in Gabon.

  • Asia: The top ten also includes three Asian cities - Tokyo (2nd), Osaka (6th) and Hong Kong (joint 8th).

  • Europe: Moscow (4th), Geneva (5th) and Zurich (joint 8th) are the most expensive European cities, followed by Copenhagen (10th).

A final word

“In the past couple of years, corporate assignments have become truly global, with expatriates and ‘global assignees’ being transferred across all parts of the world. However, global mobility is still an expensive undertaking for companies, so selection of the right candidates and a real understanding of the costs involved in relocating staff to other countries are essential - especially in today’s economic environment.

“Our cities are selected based on requests from our multinational clients. Notably African cities now figure prominently reflecting the growing economic importance of the region to global companies across all business sectors.” - Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the ranking each year.

Want to know more?

Title: 2010 Cost of Living report, Mercer.

Survey details: The figures for Mercer’s cost of living and rental accommodation costs comparisons are based on a survey conducted in March 2010 with March 2010 exchange rates.

The 2010 comparisons are based on a similar survey conducted in March 2009. However, the weighting of the basket of goods used in 2009 has been changed for 2010; a few additional items have been added. Additional cities have been added to the 2010 rankings. A direct comparison with the 2009 rankings is therefore not possible.

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Mercer is a “leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services”. The firm’s 18,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. For more details visit