These Are the World’s Most Expensive Cities for Expats in 2024

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Jim Mcnaughton, MBA, CFP®

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Momentum Independent Network Inc.
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Regional finance hubs Hong Kong and Singapore have topped a new global list of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates, keeping Swiss destinations from the top spots for the second year in a row.

High rental costs saw the rival cities beat Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern to the top of the table, according to Mercer’s 2024 Cost of Living report.

New York fell one spot to land in seventh place. London took eighth place, rising nine spots since last year’s ranking.

Mercer’s report said rising housing costs and “volatile inflation trends” were putting pressure on expat workers’ compensation packages.

“Cost-of-living challenges have had a significant impact on multinational organizations and their employees,” said Yvonne Traber, Mercer’s global mobility leader, in a press release.

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Mumbai was India’s priciest destination (136th).Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

“High living costs may cause assignees to adjust their lifestyle, cut back on discretionary spending or even struggle to meet their basic needs,” Traber said. “To offset these challenges, employers can offer compensation packages that include housing allowances or subsidies or provide other support services.”

Elsewhere on the list:

  • Seven US cities made the top 20, including Los Angeles (10th spot), Honolulu (12th) and San Francisco (13th)
  • Sydney was the Pacific region’s costliest place (58th)
  • Toronto was Canada’s most expensive city (92nd)
  • Mumbai was India’s priciest destination (136th)
  • Nigeria’s Lagos (225th) and Abuja (226th) tumbled to bottom of the table due to currency fluctuations.

Mercer measured the comparative cost of more than 200 items and services — including housing, transport, food, clothing and household goods — to come up with its ranking of 226 cities.

These are the world’s top 30 most expensive cities for expats:

  1. Hong Kong, China
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland
  6. Bern, Switzerland
  7. New York, US
  8. London, UK
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Los Angeles, US
  11. Copenhagen, Denmark
  12. Honolulu, US
  13. San Francisco, US
  14. Bangui, Central African Republic
  15. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  16. Tel Aviv, Israel
  17. Miami, US
  18. Djibouti, Djibouti
  19. Boston, US
  20. Chicago, US
  21. N’djamena, Chad
  22. Washington, D.C., US
  23. Shanghai, China
  24. Vienna, Austria
  25. Beijing, China
  26. Conakry, Guinea
  27. Atlanta, US
  28. Seattle, US
  29. Paris, France
  30. Amsterdam, Netherlands

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

Jim Mcnaughton profile photo

Jim Mcnaughton, MBA, CFP®

Financial Advisor
Momentum Independent Network Inc.
Schedule a meeting