Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Yinan Chen

Four of the world’s five most expensive cities for expatriates are in Asia, according to a new survey. Mercer consulting firm ranked Hong Kong as the most expensive city in its 24th annual cost-of-living survey, which was released today.

It was followed by Tokyo (second), Zurich (third), Singapore (fourth) and Seoul (fifth). The Angolan capital Luanda, which topped last year’s survey, was listed as sixth most expensive this year because the local currency has weakened.

China’s biggest cities – Shanghai and Beijing – were ranked seventh and ninth respectively, with N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, eighth and the Swiss city Bern, tenth.

“Factors like the instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services contribute to the overall cost of doing business in today’s global environment and properly compensating employees on international assignments is crucial for organizations,” Mercer’s global mobility spokesman Mario Ferraro said.

Chinese cities more costly because of strong yuan

“Asia’s cities, especially Chinese cities, have shown strong performance in terms of cost of living rankings, mainly due to currency fluctuations. Companies are moving top talent around the globe in response to skills shortages,” he said.

Slagin Parakatil, a principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking said: “The strengthening of the Chinese yuan pushed Chinese cities up in the ranking, however, most cities in Japan fell in the ranking due to the weakening of the Japanese yen against the US dollar.”

Mumbai (55) was rated as India’s most expensive city, followed by New Delhi (103) and Chennai (144); Kolkata (182) and Bengaluru (170) were the least expensive Indian cities ranked.

Elsewhere in Asia, Bangkok (52) jumped 15 places from last year; Kuala Lumpur (145) was also up 20 places, while Hanoi (137) fell 37 places.

Karachi (205) and Bishkek (207), the capital of Kyrgyzstan remained the region’s least expensive cities for expatriates.

Meanwhile, Australian cities dropped in rankings this year as the Aussie dollar has depreciated against the US dollar. Brisbane (84) and Perth (61) were down 13 and 11 spots, respectively, while Sydney dropped five places to 29th, but is still the country’s most expensive city for expats. Melbourne fell 12 spots to 58th.

Cities in the United States also dropped in ranking due to the decline of the US dollar against other major currencies worldwide. New York dropped four places to rank 13, the highest-ranked city in the Americas. San Francisco (28) and Los Angeles (35) dropped seven and 12 places, respectively, from last year while Chicago (51) dropped 20 places.

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