Cost of living rankings: uncertainty affecting large markets

Mobility data company, ECA has published the results of its latest Cost of Living Survey for more than 460 cities around the world, revealing the effect of volatile exchange rates in changing markets.

Global cost of living rankings: UK cities fall dramatically
ECA International’s latest Cost of Living Survey has revealed that UK cities have dropped as much as 68 places from last year in the latest global Cost of Living rankings due to the weakened British pound.

Central London at its lowest ranking ever

Central London is now ranked 132nd in the world – the lowest ever recorded since ECA first began publishing the Cost of Living rankings over 10 years ago – down from 65th last year.The Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in over 460 locations worldwide*.The Survey allows businesses to ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments as compensation is normally paid in the form of a Cost of Living Allowance.

A weaker pound means it is cheaper to bring staff to the UK

The latest results indicate that Central London (132nd) now sits just above Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the global rankings and has been overtaken by Rio de Janeiro (88th), Bangkok (116th) and Dublin (120th).“Thanks to the weakened pound UK businesses are paying more to send staff to work overseas, but it is cheaper to bring staff to the UK,” said Steven Kilfedder, production manager, ECA International.“UK locations have seen the most dramatic decline in Europe this year and the fifth-largest decline in the world – behind cities in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana in Africa. All ranked UK cities have dropped below Paris, Berlin and Brussels in the Cost of Living rankings.”

UK city ranking highlights

Edinburgh has fallen to 165th, Cardiff is now ranked at 175th and Belfast has dropped to 186th in ECA’s ranking.

Global highlights

Luanda is now the most expensive location in the world for expats

Luanda, the capital of Angola, has risen from 8th position last year to top ECA’s global rankings this year.“The cost of goods typically purchased by international assignees in Luanda, which were already high due to poor infrastructure and high oil-fuelled demand, have been pushed much higher in the last year. The Angolan kwanza is increasingly overvalued, which pushes up relative costs, while the continued weakness of the black-market exchange rate has also inflated the price of imported goods,” commented Mr Kilfedder.

Swiss cities continue to dominate the global top ten

Despite prices falling in the previous year, Swiss cities continue to dominate the global top 10, with Zurich 3rd, Geneva 4th, Basel 5th and Bern 6th.The relative decline of the euro between surveys has seen most Eurozone locations fall in the global rankings, notably French, Dutch and German destinations. Berlin has seen the most significant decline in mainland Europe, falling by 28 places to 122nd place.

Russia and Australia climb the Cost of Living rankings

The strengthened rouble has led to Moscow climbing the rankings by 125 places this year to 56th. However, it has a long way to go to reach the heights of five years ago when it was ranked 13th in the world.Sydney remains the most expensive city in Australia. It currently ranks 50th in the global rankings, up from 70th place last year. All ranked locations within Australia rose in the global rankings this year, with Adelaide rising the most, by 34 places to 75th position, although it is still the cheapest ranked location in Australia.

South American cities re-enter the top 100 most expensive in the world

Caracas in Venezuela climbed a dramatic 252 places in the past 12 months, now ranked 9th in the world, “though this ranking is likely to change considerably in upcoming Cost of Living Surveys given ongoing exchange-rate volatility,” said Mr Kilfedder.Buenos Aires (35th), Sao Paulo (85th), Rio de Janeiro (88th) and Montevideo (97th) also re-entered the top 100 most expensive locations in the world, with Brasilia reaching 103rd, up 106 places since last year.Although falling a few places this year to 23rd globally, Manhattan remains the most expensive location in North America for expatriates.
Related news:
All surveyed locations in China remain in the top 100 most expensive places to live in the world, with Shanghai peaking at 13th position. Even though all ranked Chinese cities fell in the global rankings this year, they are far more expensive places to live than five years ago, having risen 52 places on average since then.

Global top 10 most expensive locations for expatriates

2017 Cost of Living rankingCountryLocation
2Hong KongHong Kong
8Korea RepublicSeoul

Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances. Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA’s Cost of Living basket.More information on the survey can be found at: related news and features, visit our International Assignments section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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