Oil-linked cities among top-10 costliest for expatriates

The 10 most expensive cities for expatriate living include several with ties to the oil and gas industry, according to Mercer’s Annual Cost of Living Survey.

Hong Kong is the world’s costliest city for expatriates, Mercer said. From last year’s survey, it switched positions with No. 2 Luanda.

Other top-10 cities and their rankings this year are Zurich (3), Singapore (4), Tokyo (5), Kinshasa (6), Shanghai (7), Geneva (8), Ndjamena (9), and Beijing (10). Tokyo and Kinshasa were not in the top 10 last year.

New York City, which Mercer uses as the base city for comparisons, ranked 11 this year, up from 16 in 2015.

The survey, Mercer’s 22nd, covers more than 375 cities and this year ranks 209 cities across five continents. It measures comparative costs of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

The personnel-management consultancy said currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and instability of accommodation prices contribute to the costs of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

Currency fluctuations accounted for many of the cost-ranking changes from last year, Mercer said.

A strong dollar caused many US cities to rise in the rankings this year, for example.

Houston rose from No. 92 in 2015 to 75 this year. Dallas (62) was in 77th position last year.

Relative euro stability against the dollar supported rankings in Eurozone Europe. Paris, for example, rose to 44 from 46, Milan to 50 from 53, Rome to 58 from 59, and Amsterdam to 64 from 69.

London’s rank slipped to 17 from 12 last year, while Aberdeen dropped to 85 from 82.

Weakness of local currencies dropped the rankings of Oslo to 59 from 38 and of Moscow to 67 from 50. Among cities in Caspian and other Central Asian countries, rankings rose in Ashkhabad, to 66 from 127, and in Tashkent, to 137 from 162, and fell in Baku, to 172 from 33, and in Almaty, to 196 from 94.

Rankings generally increased in Middle Eastern cities: Dubai to 21 from 23, Abu Dhabi to 25 from 33, Riyadh to 57 from 71, Doha to 76 from 99, Muscat to 94 from 117, and Kuwait City to 103 from 117.

Asian cities were mixed in their ranking changes. Jakarta rose to 93 from 99, for example, while Bangkok fell to 74 from 45 and Kuala Lumpur fell to 151 from 113.

Australian ranks included Sydney, 42 vs. 31 last year; Perth, 69 vs. 48; Melbourne 71 vs. 47, and Brisbane, 96 vs. 66.

Among Indian cities, Mumbai ranked highest at 82, down from 74 last year, followed by New Delhi at 130, up from 132.

Lagos was the second-ranking African city on the list at 13, up from 20 last year. Abuja was No. 20, up from 35 last year.

Ranks of other cities in African oil-producing countries increased: Brazzaville to 23 from 42, Libreville to 28 from 30; Accra to 47 from 62; Yaounde to 50 from 60; Abidjan to 56 from 58; Douala to 70 from 78, and Tunis to 203 from 204. Algiers slipped to 185 from 181.

Latin American rankings mostly dropped this year, largely due to currency weakness. Buenos Aires was the costliest city in the region, ranking 41, down from 19 last year. Rankings plummeted for Sao Paolo, to 128 from 40; Rio de Janeiro, to 156 from 67; and Bogota, to 190 from 148. Mercer excluded Venezuelan cities this year because of currency instability.

In Canada, Calgary’s ranking slipped to 162 from 146 last year.

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