Cost of Living 2017 | Mercer

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2017 Cost of Living Survey

  • 21.06.2017
  • Middle East, 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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