Most Expensive Global Cities For Expats


The latest ranking of most expensive cities for expats includes some surprises.

But the biggest turn-up of 2019 is the rising cost of living in the USA.

A strong dollar has sent the price of a basket of goods surging up across the USA.

Expat benefits firm ECA International compared like-for-like household goods, services and living costs across 480 cities worldwide to come up with the rankings.

Top of the list is the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, followed by the usual favourites in Japan and Switzerland.

Besides the four Swiss cities, only Oslo and Stavanger, Norway made the top 20, but 30 US cities broke into the top 100, with New York the highest at 15th and Honolulu at 20th.

Strong dollar pushes USA up rankings

Ashgabat and Kinshasa make the top 20 mainly because the cost of importing goods for expats is so expensive.

North America has 30 of the top 100 most expensive locations for expats in the world, with 28 cities located in the USA  and two in Canada, overtaking Asia which has 28 in the top 100.

A strong dollar has seen all US locations rise by an average of 18 places, says the report, with eight featured in the top 50 and New York returning to the top 20 for the first time in four years.

The US performance has knocked seven European locations out of the top 100 most expensive.

Steven Kilfedder, production manager at ECA International, said: “The strength of the dollar has made the US more expensive for workers and businesses looking to move to the country. On the other hand, US companies are benefitting from the cheaper cost of sending staff abroad to locations in Europe and China.”

Top 20 most expensive global cities for expats

Rank City Country
1 Ashgabat Turkmenistan
2 Tokyo Japan
3 Zurich Switzerland
4 Geneva Switzerland
5 Basel Switzerland
6 Hong Kong Hong Kong
7 Bern Switzerland
8 Yokohama Japan
9 Tel Aviv Israel
10 Nagoya Japan
11 Osaka Japan
12 Jerusalem Israel
13 Singapore Singapore
14 Oslo Norway
15 New York USA
16 Seoul South Korea
17 Stavanger Norway
18 Macau Macau
19 Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo
20 Honolulu USA

Source: ECA International

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