By Kate Youde
Hong Kong remains the world’s most expensive place for expatriates to live, with other Asian cities accounting for five more of the 10 priciest locations, according to new research.
As last year, Hong Kong, where China’s proposed national security legislation has raised questions about the rule of law recently, tops the annual Cost of Living ranking by human resources consultancy Mercer. Meanwhile, Ashgabat in Turkmenistan has jumped from seventh to second place in the past 12 months, pushing Tokyo into third.
Covid-19 is a reminder that sending employees overseas is a “huge responsibility”, says Ilya Bonic, career president and head of Mercer Strategy. He adds that organisations now need to understand that “not all [potential] expatriates will be ready or willing to go abroad”.
Those who are will find Zurich the world’s fourth most expensive city, ahead of Singapore and New York. Shanghai, Bern, Geneva and Beijing complete the top 10.
At the other end of the scale, Tunis is the least expensive of 209 cities studied, followed by Namibian capital Windhoek.
The ranking calculates comparative living costs for foreign workers using the price of housing, day-to-day goods, food, clothing, entertainment and transport.
Here we look at prime property for sale in some of the more affordable locations.
The South African city ranks 192nd out of 209 in Mercer’s survey, making it one of the world’s least expensive for expats. Features of this contemporary four-bedroom house in the northern suburb of Morningside, available at a guide price of ZAR15.9m ($0.93m), include a cocktail bar and floodlit tennis court.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio in Brazil has fallen nearly 40 places down the Cost of Living ranking in the past 12 months to 160th spot. This seven-bedroom modern mansion in the residential district of Humaitá is overlooked by the city’s Christ the Redeemer statue (see main picture, above). It is on the market for BRL25m ($5m).
The historic centre of Lithuania’s capital, ranked 157th, is a Unesco World Heritage Site thanks to its impressive baroque, gothic, renaissance and classical architecture. A two-bedroom apartment in the Old Town, a few minutes’ walk from Vilnius Town Hall, could be yours for €387,138.
Argentina’s capital has become comparatively more affordable for expats in the past year, dropping 20 places in the global ranking to 153rd place. This early 20th-century French-style mansion is currently divided into three apartments but could be used as one eight-bedroom home. It is on the market for $8.8m.
Canada’s capital, and its least expensive city, ranks 151st globally. This six-bedroom home in the residential neighbourhood of Rockcliffe Park, close to the south bank of the Ottawa River, has a leafy garden, wine room and sunroom. The property is priced C$2.1m ($1.54m).