European cities dominate most expensive in the world for expats

Cities across Europe have become more expensive this year to make up a third of the top 100 most expensive cities to live in the world in 2018, according to a new report.

Zurich city centre
Cities in the UK and across the Eurozone have jumped by an average of 42 places in the ranking of the most expensive cities in the world, according to ECA International’s annual Cost of Living report.Central London has risen 23 places in the past year, to 109th place, having dropped out of the top 100 last year for the first time in over a decade.Thanks to the strength of the euro, 18 additional European cities have entered the top 100 – many for the first time in four years – meaning Europe now makes up almost a third (30 percent) of the world’s most expensive cities.Steven Kilfedder, production manager for ECA International, said, “In our analysis of the cost of living in cities around the world Central London dropped as many as 93 places after Brexit, reaching 139th place in September 2017.“The pound’s gradual recovery has caused a rise in the cost of living for expats across the UK. Belfast remains the cheapest city in the UK and 164th in the global table.”By comparing a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in 475 locations worldwide.The survey is aimed at businesses hoping to ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments.

Moscow remains expensive but football fans can find bargains

While Moscow is generally expensive – being ranked the 54th most expensive city in the world – football fans visiting the country will still find some bargains.“Although Moscow can be particularly costly for expats, football fans heading to the World Cup this month will be pleasantly surprised to find that public transport costs are much lower, and eating out will be cheaper for Brits. However, they should expect London prices for drinks,” explained Mr Kilfedder. 

Caracas the most expensive city in the world

Inflation in Venezuela has rocketed over the past year causing a significant hike in the cost of living. Venezuela’s capital, Caracas now tops ECA’s list of the most expensive cities in the world, overtaking Hong Kong, all cities in Switzerland, and last year’s most expensive location, Luanda.Mr Kilfedder said, “The economic situation in Venezuela has become increasingly volatile with inflation reaching an astounding 7,000 per cent in the year to March 2018 and 1,800 percent over the last six months alone. The cost of goods has increased exponentially as the economic and political situation has deteriorated and despite the plummeting value of the bolivar, Caracas sits at the top of our cost of living rankings.”In contrast, despite the enormous rates of inflation, Venezuela is home to the cheapest petrol in the world costing less than one US cent per litre.
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Cities in Switzerland among the most expensive

Zurich (second), Geneva (third), Basel (fourth) and Bern (fifth) all continue to demonstrate that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, with the four Swiss cities maintaining a steady record of being within the top ten most expensive in the world for the past five years.Mr Kilfedder explained, “The four Swiss cities in our rankings have been among the top ten most expensive in the world for years despite very low or negative inflation for much of the time. A strong currency and particularly high prices for food are among the reasons why the country is so expensive for foreigners. However, despite the high prices, high salaries in the country mean locals are still well-off compared to their European counterparts.”

Drop in US dollar leads to cheaper cities

Although Manhattan (30th), Honolulu (40th) and New York City (46th) remain in the top 50 most expensive cities in the world, the drop in value of the US dollar has caused cities across the board in the US to fall in the rankings. Greenwich (105th), Las Vegas (107th) and Boston (108th) each fell out of the top 100 most expensive cities for the first time in four years. Copenhagen in Denmark (15th) has also overtaken Manhattan for the first time since 2014.“The weakness of the US dollar in the face of slower than expected tightening of monetary policy has made the US cheaper for foreign workers and also made it more expensive for US citizens moving abroad,” said Mr Kilfedder. 

Lebanon, Qatar and Bahrain drop out of top 100 most expensive cities in the world

The drop in value of the US dollar has had a ripple effect on the cost of living in many countries around the world whose currencies are linked to it, including several in the Middle East. Lebanon, Qatar and Bahrain have dropped out of the top 100 most expensive cities in the world this year as a result.The exception to this trend is the UAE as Dubai (60th) and Abu Dhabi (74th) remain in the top 100, both jumping a few places.“Although expatriates in the UAE and Saudi Arabia may have gained from the drop in value of the local currencies, which are linked to the US dollar, the introduction of five percent VAT has pushed up prices of most goods and services, counteracting the effect of the US dollar. Expatriates in Saudi Arabia experienced a double hit to their pockets with petrol prices increasing by a hefty 127 percent in the past year,” explained Mr Kilfedder.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory 

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