Hong Kong named world's most expensive city for expats

According to Mercer's annual Cost of Living Rankings, 5 of the 10 priciest cities in the world for foreigners are located in Asia.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

A layer of fog floats into Victoria harbour in Hong Kong, late on March 15, 2010.

According to Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living Rankings, Hong Kong replaced Angolan capital Luanda as the world's most expensive city for expatriates, which slipped to second place after topping the list for three consecutive years. Zurich follows Luanda in third place. 

The newest entry in the top 10 was Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The Asian experience

Five of the cities ranked in the top 10 are in Asia. Mario Ferraro of Mercer told the Financial Times the cost of sending employees to these pricey outposts does not deter companies from making the investment. 

Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing are seen as global hubs with plenty of opportunities to invest both money and talent; from Big Law to banks, everyone wants to take part in the Asian experience.

The survey by the Mercer consulting group compares the cost of a variety of over 200 items in over 200 cities, including housing, food, transport and entertainment.

Taking New York as its base for comparison, the survey measures currency movements against the dollar, which has appreciated significantly over the past year.

"Despite technology advances and the rise of a globally connected workforce, deploying expatriate employees remains an increasingly important aspect of a competitive multinational company’s business strategy," said Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Talent business in a statement on the company website.

"However, with volatile markets and stunted economic growth in many parts of the world, a keen eye on cost efficiency is essential, including a focus on expatriate remuneration packages," added Bonic.

A man walks before residential apartments in Hong Kong on May 16, 2015. (AFP)

Cities in countries where currencies have slumped have now became more affordable, with Moscow recording one of the most spectacular slides, falling from 17th place to become the 67th cosliest city for expats.

The cities where a dollar goes a long way – the bottom 10 – include Lusaka, Gaborone, Karachi, Tunis, Minsk, Johannesburg, Blantyre, Cape Town and Windhoek.

TRTWorld and agencies