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June 2015

World’s most expensive locations for expat employees revealed

Published: Tuesday 23 June 2015

The South Sudan city of Juba is the world’s most expensive location for expatriates according to findings from the latest Cost of Living survey by ECA International.

Juba replaced fellow African city Luanda, Angola, at the top of the rankings with Zurich, Switzerland deemed to be the world’s third most expensive city for expat employees.

The survey takes several factors into account when compiling the rankings, including the prices of a number of items and services, to compare how expensive it would be to maintain the same standard of living in the new country.

“The difficulty of importing international standard goods to a country which has seen significant fighting over the last year pushes up the price of the goods available for the expatriates in the country,” explained Steven Kilfedder, of ECA International. “However, Juba’s rise to the top of our rankings is due mainly to exchange rate changes. Luanda saw prices rise at a similar rate to Juba but as the official South Sudanese pound rate closely follows the US Dollar it has strengthened considerably while the kwanza in Angola has weakened.”

Last year’s most expensive European city, Oslo has tumbled to 11th position globally, mainly to the weakening of the Krone


Paris in longer one of the world’s top 30 most expensive destinations for Expat employees

The euro’s significant depreciation over the past 12 months has seen all Eurozone locations drop down the rankings with Spanish and German locations among those falling hardest. Madrid has fallen from 86th place to 160th while Munich which ranked 54th last year is in 121st position this survey. Elsewhere, Stockholm and Paris have fallen out of the top 30 to 55th and 75th spots respectively.

While Central London’s 48th position in the global ranking is two spots lower than last year, it’s a significant rise from two years ago when it was outside of the top 80 locations ranked.

Shanghai has become Asia Pacific’s most expensive location for expatriates for the first time. Globally, the Chinese city has moved into the top ten to 8th position – up from last year’s 18th spot.

Tokyo, which topped the Asia Pacific ranking a year ago has dropped from 11th to 16th globally.

Meanwhile, Australian locations continue to fall down the ranking – a reflection of the weakened Australian Dollar as growth there slows. Sydney currently ranks 57th globally down from last year’s 38th place.

New York

New York has risen in the most expensive expat city rankings, largely due to the strengthening of the US Dollar

Manhattan is the most expensive location in North America for expatriates. The strengthening of the US Dollar between the 2014 and 2015 surveys has seen locations across the United States climb the ranking. Manhattan has risen to 20th place globally up from last year’s 39th spot. Conversely, cities in Canada have dropped in the ranking. Vancouver, the most expensive city in Canada for expatriates has fallen 6 places to 94th globally.

Buenos Aires is the most expensive location in Latin America. The Argentine capital ranks 40th globally – in sharp contrast to last year when it was 134th. Although the Peso weakened against major currencies between annual surveys, prices of items in ECA’s shopping increased 25 per cent on average during the same period.

Despite significant price increases Brazilian cities continue to fall down the ranking as the value of the real depreciates even faster. Rio de Janeiro, ranked just outside the top 50 two years ago, is now in 162nd spot. Caracas, the world’s most expensive location two years ago was not included in this year’s survey due to the multiple exchange rate systems in operation in Venezuela leading to considerably varied rankings.

In the Middle East, Tel Aviv is the most expensive location, despite falling 3 spots to 24th place. Elsewhere in the region a number of locations where the currency is pegged to the US Dollar have climbed the ranking dramatically including Dubai (85th globally) and Doha (89th).

Top 30 most expensive cities for expat employes (according to ECA International)

  1. Juba, South Sudan
  2. Angola, Luanda
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Bern, Switzerland
  6. Basel, Switzerland
  7. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  8. Shanghai, China
  9. Beijing, China
  10. Seoul, South Korea
  11. Oslo, Norway
  12. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  13. Stavanger, Norway
  14. Guangzhou, China
  15. Busan, South Korea
  16. Tokyo, Japan
  17. Conakry, Guinea
  18. Shenzen, China
  19. Singapore, Singapore
  20. Manhattan, USA
  21. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  22. Copenhagen, Denmark
  23. Ulsan, South Korea
  24. Tel Aviv, Israel
  25. Jerusalem, Israel
  26. Dalian, China
  27. Libreville, Gabon
  28.  Yokohama, Japan
  29. New York, USA
  30. Honolulu, USA