The world’s most expensive cities for expats have been revealed in an annual study from consultancy firm Mercer, with the Angolan capital of Luanda dropping from first to second place on previous years.

Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey looks at the price of more than 200 items (including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment) across 209 cities. This helps companies determine expat allowance for overseas workers.

Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business, says: “Despite technology advances and the rise of a globally connected workforce, deploying expatriate employees remains an increasingly important aspect of a competitive multinational company’s business strategy.

“However, with volatile markets and stunted economic growth in many parts of the world, a keen eye on cost efficiency is essential.”

This year it has shown how the weakening of Angola’s local currency has meant it is no longer the world’s most expensive city for expats.

Instead, Hong Kong has risen to first position, with monthly rent for a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment being US$6,809. Meanwhile, a pair of jeans will cost an average of US$128, a cup of coffee US$7.77, a hamburger meal US$4.83 and a small imported beer US$1.35.

Major UK cities have all become cheaper. London fell five places to 17th position, Aberdeen dropped seven places to 85th and Birmingham dropped by 16 spots to 96th. Glasgow descended ten places to 119th, while Belfast went down three places to 134th.

In Western Europe, the five most expensive cities are Zurich (3), Geneva (8), Bern (13), London (17) and Copenhagen (24). In Eastern and Central Europe, Moscow comes out top (67).

In North America, the five priciest cities are New York (11), San Francisco (26), LA (27), Chicago (34) and Honolulu (37). Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer, says: “Despite mild price increases overall, most cities in the US have climbed in the ranking, primarily due to a strong US dollar.”

Canadian cities continued to drop, mainly due to the weak Canadian dollar. The country’s highest-ranked city, Vancouver (142), fell 23 places. Toronto (143) dropped 17 spots, while Montreal (155) and Calgary (162) fell 15 and 16 spots, respectively.

In Central America, Buenos Aires is the most expensive (41st place), while in the Pacific region, Noumea, the capital of the South Pacific archipelago New Caledonia, was more expensive than Sydney (42) and Perth (69).

Tel Aviv (19) continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates, followed by Dubai (21), Abu Dhabi (25) and Beirut (50). Mumbai (82) is India’s most expensive city.

Most expensive cities for expats

1. Hong Kong

2. Luanda

3. Zurich

4. Singapore

5. Tokyo

6. Kinshasa

7. Shanghai

8. Geneva

9. N’Djamena

10. Beijing

Cheapest cities for expats

200. Lusaka

201. Gabarone

= 201. Karachi

203. Tunis

204. Minsk

205. Johannesburg

206. Blantyre

207. Bishrek

208. Cape Town

209. Windhoek

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