• Kyodo


Tokyo is the third most expensive city for expats, according to a U.S. consulting firm’s cost of living survey, down from second last year and trailing top-ranked Hong Kong for the third consecutive year.

Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, which ranked 209 cities this year, ranked Ashgabat in Turkmenistan as the second most expensive city, up from seventh last year, while Zurich came in fourth, up from fifth, followed by Singapore, down two places from third, and New York City, which moved up to sixth from ninth place.

Hong Kong retained its top spot due to currency movements against the U.S. dollar that drove up its cost of living, said the human resources consulting firm, which compiles the data to help multinational companies and governments across the world determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees.

The four other cities in the top 10 were Shanghai in seventh, Bern in eighth, Geneva in ninth and Beijing, which came 10th.


The survey measures the cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York City is used as the base for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the dollar.

Mercer collected data in March, although it said it conducted further analysis on the availability of goods in April and May to verify pricing due to the timing of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Ilya Bonic, career president and head of Mercer Strategy, said in a press release dated Tuesday the pandemic has affected the cost of living.

“Border closings, flight interruptions, mandatory confinements, and other short-term disruptions have affected not only the cost of goods and services, but also the quality of living of assignees,” Bonic said.

The world’s least expensive city for expatriates, according to the survey, is Tunis in Tunisia. Just above it came Windhoek in Namibia at 208th and Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, which tied for 206th place in the rankings.

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