2017 COST OF LIVING SURVEY

June 21, 2017

United Arab Emirates, Dubai


Despite worldwide changes, multinationals focus on mobile workforces to support career growth and ensure global competitiveness

Dubai and Abu Dhabi ranked as the second and third most expensive Middle Eastern cities for expatriate cost of living


  • Dubai rises to Top 20 of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates to live in
  • Abu Dhabi (23rd) and Riyadh (52nd) also rise in the ranking, though modestly
  • No major fluctuations in the ranking for cities across the Middle East, with the exception of Egypt which dropped almost one hundred places to 183rd

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 21 June 2017: According to Mercer’s 2017 Cost of Living Survey, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the second and third most expensive Middle Eastern cities for expatriate cost of living. The global ranking sees Dubai climbing one place from last year to become the 20th most expensive city in the world, with Abu Dhabi just behind in 23rd place and two spots up from last year. The rise in the rankings follows the wider Middle Eastern trend of GCC countries becoming more expensive.


Nuno Gomes, Principal Information Solutions Leader at Mercer Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, commented: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to rise in the global rankings in line with increasing cost of living indicators in the UAE. However, this year currency fluctuation was less of a factor in worldwide changes in the rankings, so the slight rise on the list represents a true increase in the cost of living in the UAE when compared to other cities globally.”


In addition to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, six other Middle Eastern cities appeared in the world’s top one hundred, including Riyadh (52), Beirut (53), Manama (55), Amman (59), Doha (81) and Muscat (92). Manama, Bahrain climbed by the most spots among Middle Eastern cities, coming in at 16 places higher than last year, with Riyadh and Muscat also rising by five and two places respectively. Meanwhile, Beirut fell by two places, Amman by nine and Doha by five.


Middle Eastern cities that fell just outside of the global top one hundred include Jeddah (117), which rose by four places, as well as Kuwait City (111), Istanbul (142) and Cairo (183), which dropped by eight, forty-one and ninety-two spots respectively. The plummet in Cairo’s ranking follows a major devaluation of its local currency, and the city now represents by far the least expensive city in this part of the world. The other least expensive cities in the region are Istanbul, Jeddah and Kuwait City.


Mercer’s 23rd annual Cost of Living Survey finds that factors like instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services contribute to the overall cost of doing business in today’s global environment.


Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Career business, commented: “Globalisation of the marketplace is well documented, with many companies operating in multiple locations around the world and promoting international assignments to enhance the experience of future managers. There are numerous personal and organisational advantages for sending employees overseas, whether for long- or short-term assignments, including career development by obtaining global experience, the creation and transfer of skills, and the re-allocation of resources.”


Mercer's authoritative survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The survey includes over 400 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.


At a global level, European and Asian cities continue to dominate the top of the list. This year’s most expensive city though is Luanda, Angola, back at the top spot which it also occupied in 2014 and 2015. The same cities remained at the Top 5, despite changes in ranking positions; Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore complete the list of most expensive cities in the world.


Mr. Bonic added: “While historically mobility, talent management, and rewards have been managed independently of one another, organisations are now using a more holistic approach to enhance their mobility strategies. Compensation is important to be competitive and must be determined appropriately based on the cost of living, currency, and location.”


The Americas


Cities in the United States are the most expensive locations in the Americas, topped by New York City (9), San Francisco (22) and Los Angeles (24), which climbed by two, four and three spots respectively. Among other major US cities, Chicago (32) is up two places, Boston (51) is down four places, and Seattle is up seven places. Portland (115) and Winston Salem (140) remain the least expensive surveyed cities for expatriates in the US.


Ms. Constantin-Métral commented: “Overall, US cities either remained stable in the ranking or have slightly increased due to the movement of the US dollar against the majority of currencies worldwide.”


In South America, Brazilian cities Sao Paulo (27) and Rio de Janeiro (56) surged 101 and 100 spots, respectively due to the strengthening of the Brazilian real against the US dollar. Buenos Aires ranked 40 followed by Santiago (67) and Montevideo, Uruguay (65), which jumped forty-one and fifty-four places respectively. Other cities in South America that rose in the rankings include Lima (104) and Havana (151). Dropping from 94th position, San Jose, Costa Rica (110) experienced the largest drop in the region as the US dollar strengthened against the Costa Rican colon. Caracas in Venezuela has been excluded from the ranking due to the complex currency situation. Depending on which exchange rate is being used, the city would arrive at the top or at the bottom of the ranking.


“Inflationary concerns continued to cause some South American cities to rise in the ranking, whereas the weakening of the local currencies in some of the region’s cities caused them to drop in the ranking,” said Ms. Constantin-Métral.


Up thirty-five places from last year, Vancouver (107) has overtaken Toronto (119) to become the most expensive Canadian city in the ranking, followed by Montreal (129) and Calgary (143). Ranking 152, Ottawa is the least expensive city in Canada. “The Canadian dollar has appreciated in value triggering the major jumps in this year’s ranking,” explained Ms. Constantin-Métral.


Europe and Africa


Only three European cities remain in the top 10 list of most expensive cities for expatriates.


Zurich (4) is still the most costly European city on the list, followed by Geneva (7) and Bern (10). Moscow (14) and St. Petersburg (36) surged fifty-three and one hundred and sixteen places from last year respectively due to the strong appreciation of the ruble against the US dollar and the cost of goods and services. Meanwhile, London (30), Aberdeen (146) and Birmingham (147) dropped thirteen, sixty-one and fifty-one spots respectively as a result of the pound weakening against the US dollar following the Brexit vote. Copenhagen (28) fell four places from 24 to 28. Oslo (46) is up thirteen spots from last year, while Paris fell eighteen places to rank 62.


Other Western European cities dropped in the rankings as well, mainly due to the weakening of local currencies against the US dollar. Vienna (78) and Rome (80) fell in the ranking by 24 and 22 spots, respectively. The German cities of Munich (98), Frankfurt (117), and Berlin (120) dropped significantly as did Dusseldorf (122) and Hamburg (125).


“Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar, which pushed most Western European cities down in the ranking,” explained Ms. Constantin-Métral. “Additionally, other factors like the Eurozone’s economy have impacted these cities.”


As a result of local currencies depreciating against the US dollar, some cities in Eastern and Central Europe, including Prague (132) and Budapest (176) fell in the ranking, while Minsk (200) and Kiev (163) jumped four and thirteen spots, respectively, despite stable accommodations in these locations.


Quite a few African cities continue to rank high in this year’s survey, reflecting high living costs and prices of goods for expatriate employees. Luanda (1) takes the top spot as the most expensive city for expatriates across Africa and globally despite its currency weakening against the US dollar. Luanda is followed by Victoria (14), Ndjamena (16), and Kinshasa (18). Tunis falls six spots to rank 209 as the least expensive city in the region and overall.


Asia Pacific


Five of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia. Hong Kong (2) is the most expensive city as a result of its currency pegged to the US dollar, which drove up the cost of accommodations locally. This global financial center is followed by Tokyo (3), Singapore (5), Seoul (6), and Shanghai (8).


“The strengthening of the Japanese yen along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market pushed Japanese cities up in the ranking,” said Ms. Constantin-Métral. “However, the majority of Chinese cities fell in the ranking due to the weakening of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar.”


Australian cities have all experienced further jumps up the global ranking since last year due to the strengthening of the Australian dollar. Sydney (25), Australia’s most expensive city for expatriates, gained seventeen places in the ranking along with Melbourne (46) and Perth (50) which went up twenty-five and nineteen spots, respectively.


India’s most expensive city, Mumbai (57), climbed twenty-five places in the ranking due to its rapid economic growth, inflation on the goods and services basket and a stable currency against the US Dollar. This most populous city in India is followed by New Delhi (99) and Chennai (135) which rose in the ranking by thirty-one and twenty-three spots, respectively. Bengaluru (166) and Kolkata (184), the least expensive Indian cities, climbed in the ranking as well.


Elsewhere in Asia, Bangkok (67) jumped seven places from last year. Jakarta (88) and Hanoi (100) also rose in the ranking, up five and six places, respectively. Karachi (201) and Bishkek (208) remain the region’s least expensive cities for expatriates.


Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed. For more information on city rankings, visit www.mercer.com/col. To purchase copies of individual city reports, visit https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/multinational-approach-cost-of-living-data or call Mercer Client Services in Warsaw on +48 22 434 5383.


Notes for editors


The list of rankings is provided to journalists for reference and should not be published in full. The top 10 and bottom 10 cities may be reproduced in a table.


The figures for Mercer’s cost of living and rental accommodation costs comparisons are derived from a survey conducted in March 2017. Exchange rates from that time and Mercer’s international basket of goods and services have been used as base measurements.


Governments and major companies use data from this survey to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad; rental accommodation costs data is used to assess local expatriate housing allowances. The choice of cities surveyed is based on the demand for data.


About Mercer


Mercer is a global consulting leader in health, wealth and careers. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerInsights.


Mercer also provides advice and market data on international and expatriate compensation management, and works with multinational companies and governments worldwide. It maintains one of the most comprehensive databases on international assignment policies; compensation practices; and data on worldwide cost of living, housing, and hardship allowances. Its annual global mobility conferences and other events provide companies with the latest trends and research on mobility issues. Visit https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/ for details. Follow Mercer’s mobility news on Twitter @Mercer_Talent.


Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2017


(Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)


Rank as of March


City


Country


2016


2017


2


1


LUANDA


Angola


1


2


HONG KONG


Hong Kong


5


3


TOKYO


Japan


3


4


ZURICH


Switzerland


4


5


SINGAPORE


Singapore


15


6


SEOUL


South Korea


8


7


GENEVA


Switzerland


7


8


SHANGHAI


China


11


9


NEW YORK CITY


United States


13


10


BERN


Switzerland


10


11


BEIJING


China


30


12


TIANJIN


China


12


13


SHENZHEN


China


67


14


MOSCOW


Russia


16


14


VICTORIA


Seychelles


9


16


NDJAMENA


Chad


19


17


TEL AVIV


Israel


6


18


KINSHASA


Dem. Rep. of the Congo


18


19


GUANGZHOU


China


21


20


DUBAI


United Arab Emirates


22


21


OSAKA


Japan


26


22


SAN FRANCISCO


United States


25


23


ABU DHABI


United Arab Emirates


27


24


LOS ANGELES


United States


42


25


SYDNEY


Australia


43


25


TAIPEI


Taiwan


128


27


SAO PAULO


Brazil


24


28


COPENHAGEN


Denmark


13


29


LAGOS


Nigeria


17


30


LONDON


United Kingdom


23


31


BRAZZAVILLE


Congo


34


32


CHICAGO


United States


29


33


NANJING


China


28


33


LIBREVILLE


Gabon


54


35


NAGOYA


Japan


152


36


ST.PETERSBURG


Russia


37


36


HONOLULU


United States


45


38


DHAKA


Bangladesh


38


39


WASHINGTON


United States


41


40


BUENOS AIRES


Argentina


45


41


MIAMI


United States


31


42


SHENYANG


China


32


42


NOUMEA


New Caledonia


56


42


ABIDJAN


Côte d'Ivoire


33


45


QINGDAO


China


71


46


MELBOURNE


Australia


34


46


CHENGDU


China


59


46


OSLO


Norway


40


49


DJIBOUTI


Djibouti


69


50


PERTH


Australia


47


51


BOSTON


United States


57


52


RIYADH


Saudi Arabia


50


52


BEIRUT


Lebanon


47


54


ACCRA


Ghana


71


55


MANAMA


Bahrain


156


56


RIO DE JANEIRO


Brazil


82


57


MUMBAI


India


66


57


ASHGABAT


Turkmenistan


50


59


AMMAN


Jordan


20


59


ABUJA


Nigeria


98


61


AUCKLAND


New Zealand


62


62


DALLAS


United States


44


62


PARIS


France


61


64


WHITE PLAINS


United States


119


65


MONTEVIDEO


Uruguay


47


66


DUBLIN


Ireland


108


67


SANTIAGO


Chile


39


67


YANGON


Myanmar


74


67


BANGKOK


Thailand


50


70


YAOUNDE


Cameroon


98


71


CANBERRA


Australia


50


71


MILAN


Italy


96


71


BRISBANE


Australia


75


74


HOUSTON


United States


60


75


PORT OF SPAIN


Trinidad & Tobago


83


76


SEATTLE


United States


102


77


ADELAIDE


Australia


54


78


VIENNA


Austria


67


79


SAN JUAN


Puerto Rico


58


80


ROME


Italy


76


81


DOHA


Qatar


71


81


MORRISTOWN


United States


78


83


ATLANTA


United States


62


84


BANGUI


Central African Republic


64


85


AMSTERDAM


Netherlands


123


86


WELLINGTON


New Zealand


91


86


MINNEAPOLIS


United States


81


88


PANAMA CITY


Panama


93


88


JAKARTA


Indonesia


64


88


HELSINKI


Finland


36


91


CONAKRY


Guinea


94


92


MUSCAT


Oman


79


93


DAKAR


Senegal


70


94


DOUALA


Cameroon


103


95


DETROIT


United States


80


95


MANILA


Philippines


88


97


HO CHI MINH CITY


Vietnam


77


98


MUNICH


Germany


130


99


NEW DELHI


India


110


100


CLEVELAND


United States


108


100


ST. LOUIS


United States


106


100


HANOI


Vietnam


88


100


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN


Brunei


86


104


BRUSSELS


Belgium


141


104


LIMA


Peru


84


106


STOCKHOLM


Sweden


142


107


VANCOUVER


Canada


86


107


LUXEMBOURG


Luxembourg


112


107


PITTSBURGH


United States


94


110


SAN JOSE


Costa Rica


126


111


GUATEMALA CITY


Guatemala


116


111


NAIROBI


Kenya


103


111


KUWAIT CITY


Kuwait


105


111


MADRID


Spain


118


115


PHNOM PENH


Cambodia


117


115


PORTLAND


United States


88


117


FRANKFURT


Germany


121


117


JEDDAH


Saudi Arabia


143


119


TORONTO


Canada


100


120


BERLIN


Germany


110


121


BARCELONA


Spain


107


122


DUSSELDORF


Germany


137


123


TASHKENT


Uzbekistan


127


123


QUITO


Ecuador


113


125


HAMBURG


Germany


190


126


BRASILIA


Brazil


114


126


RIGA


Latvia


115


126


BAMAKO


Mali


155


129


MONTREAL


Canada


122


130


POINTE A PITRE


Guadeloupe


130


130


CASABLANCA


Morocco


139


132


COLOMBO


Sri Lanka


124


132


PRAGUE


Czech Republic


145


134


PORT AU PRINCE


Haiti


158


135


CHENNAI


India


143


136


ADDIS ABABA


Ethiopia


134


137


LISBON


Portugal


132


137


LYON


France


124


139


COTONOU


Benin


147


140


WINSTON SALEM


United States


129


141


STUTTGART


Germany


101


142


ISTANBUL


Turkey


162


143


CALGARY


Canada


137


144


ATHENS


Greece


132


144


LOME


Togo


85


146


ABERDEEN


United Kingdom


139


147


KIGALI


Rwanda


96


147


BIRMINGHAM


United Kingdom


136


147


BRATISLAVA


Slovakia


148


150


SANTO DOMINGO


Dominican Republic


170


151


HAVANA


Cuba


171


152


OTTAWA


Canada


146


153


OUAGADOUGOU


Burkina Faso


190


153


BOGOTA


Colombia


152


155


KINGSTON


Jamaica


160


156


SAN SALVADOR


El Salvador


157


156


HARARE


Zimbabwe


149


158


NIAMEY


Niger


159


159


ZAGREB


Croatia


150


160


TALLINN


Estonia


119


161


GLASGOW


United Kingdom


154


161


LJUBLJANA


Slovenia


176


163


KIEV


Ukraine


174


164


DAR ES SALAAM


Tanzania


151


165


KUALA LUMPUR


Malaysia


180


166


BENGALURU


India


167


167


VILNIUS


Lithuania


160


168


NURNBERG


Germany


168


169


RABAT


Morocco


134


170


BELFAST


United Kingdom


175


171


PORT LOUIS


Mauritius


165


172


LEIPZIG


Germany


180


173


ISLAMABAD


Pakistan


162


173


LIMASSOL


Cyprus


196


175


ALMATY


Kazakhstan


165


176


BUDAPEST


Hungary


169


177


MEXICO CITY


Mexico


183


178


ASUNCION


Paraguay


200


179


LUSAKA


Zambia


177


180


WARSAW


Poland


172


181


BUCHAREST


Romania


172


182


BAKU


Azerbaijan


91


183


CAIRO


Egypt


182


184


SOFIA


Bulgaria


194


184


KOLKATA


India


187


186


KAMPALA


Uganda


185


187


ALGIERS


Algeria


164


188


MAPUTO


Mozambique


186


189


TIRANA


Albania


178


189


NOUAKCHOTT


Mauritania


205


191


JOHANNESBURG


South Africa


179


192


BANJUL


Gambia


184


193


LA PAZ


Bolivia


192


194


MANAGUA


Nicaragua


189


195


YEREVAN


Armenia


201


196


GABORONE


Botswana


188


197


TEGUCIGALPA


Honduras


193


198


BELGRADE


Serbia


208


199


CAPE TOWN


South Africa


204


200


MINSK


Belarus


201


201


KARACHI


Pakistan


195


202


SARAJEVO


Bosnia and Herzegovina


197


203


MONTERREY


Mexico


198


204


TBILISI


Georgia


206


205


BLANTYRE


Malawi


209


206


WINDHOEK


Namibia


199


206


SKOPJE


Macedonia


207


208


BISHKEK


Kyrgyzstan


203


209


TUNIS


Tunisia


Source: Mercer’s 2017 Cost of Living Survey


-ENDS-


Notes for editors


The top 10 and bottom 10 cities are provided below for publishing.


The figures for Mercer’s cost of living and rental accommodation costs comparisons are derived from a survey conducted in March 2016. Exchange rates from that time and Mercer’s international basket of goods and services from its Cost of Living survey have been used as base measurements.


Governments and major companies use data from this survey to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad; rental accommodation costs data is used to assess local expatriate housing allowances. The choice of cities surveyed is based on the demand for data.


About Mercer


Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.


Mercer also provides advice and market data on international and expatriate compensation management, and works with multinational companies and governments worldwide. It maintains one of the most comprehensive databases on international assignment policies; compensation practices; and data on worldwide cost of living, housing, and hardship allowances. Its annual global mobility conferences and other events provide companies with the latest trends and research on mobility issues. Visit https://www.imercer.com/EU/tabs/gm.aspx for details. Follow Mercer’s mobility news on Twitter @MercerMobility.


Top 10 cities Ranking


Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2016


(The Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)


Rank as of March


City


Country


2015


2016


2


1


HONG KONG


Hong Kong


1


2


LUANDA


Angola


3


3


ZURICH


Switzerland


4


4


SINGAPORE


Singapore


11


5


TOKYO


Japan


13


6


KINSHASA


Dem. Rep. of the Congo


6


7


SHANGHAI


China


5


8


GENEVA


Switzerland


10


9


NDJAMENA


Chad


7


10


BEIJING


China


 


Source: Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Survey


Bottom 10 cities Ranking


Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2016


(The Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)


Rank as of March


City


Country


2015


2016


180


200


LUSAKA


Zambia


188


201


GABORONE


Botswana


205


201


KARACHI


Pakistan


204


203


TUNIS


Tunisia


200


204


MINSK


Belarus


191


205


JOHANNESBURG


South Africa


186


206


BLANTYRE


Malawi


207


207


BISHKEK


Kyrgyzstan


200


208


CAPE TOWN


South Africa


206


209


WINDHOEK


Namibia


Source: Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Survey


 


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