Hong Kong named the world’s most expensive city for expats


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ANY expats living in New York City or London who thought they had it tough, think again.

Hong Kong has been named the world’s most expensive city for those working abroad, overtaking Angola’s capital, Luanda, according to an annual survey.

After topping the cost of living report for three consecutive years, Luanda was pipped by the Asian city in 2016, owing to a stronger Hong Kong dollar. Luanda now sits in second spot.

Zurich and Singapore were third and fourth on the list, unchanged from a year ago. A strong yen propelled Tokyo six places higher to become the world’s fifth-most expensive expat destination.

The survey, conducted by global consulting firm Mercer, covers 209 cities across five continents and compares the cost of over 200 items, including housing, food, transport, clothing and entertainment.

Now in its 22nd year, the survey is designed to help major companies when calculating expat workers’ allowances. Even the cost of a cup of coffee and a bottle of beer is taken into account.

In Hong Kong, renting an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in a decent neighbourhood costs over $9,100 a month (AUD). A cup of coffee costs a whopping $10, while a litre of unleaded petrol is around $2.40 and a litre of milk will set you back $5.35.

Considering the city has more Rolls Royce’s per capita than anywhere else in the world, the results might not come as a total surprise.

“Generally speaking, prices remained stable across the world,” Bruno Rocquemont of Mercer France told AFP, attributing steep rises or falls in cities’ rankings chiefly to exchange rate fluctuations.

Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was ranked sixth, appearing in the top 10 for the first time. It was followed by Shanghai, Geneva, N’Djamena — the capital of Chad — and Beijing.

Outside the top 10, New York rose five places to rank 11th. The Big Apple is used as the base city for all comparisons and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The cost of living in several US cities also rose on the back of the strong dollar.

Uncertainty over a possible UK exit from the EU contributed to London dropping from 12th to 17th spot. As a result, the British capital is now cheaper than New York, Beijing, Tokyo and Zurich.

According to Mercer, all the UK cities included in its survey have slipped in the rankings this year, with Birmingham falling 16 places to 96th, Glasgow dropping 10 places to 119th and Belfast down three spots to 134th.

Ellyn Karetnick, the head of international mobility practice at Mercer, said: “Although the value of the euro has remained steady against the US dollar, the pound has fallen, largely due to Brexit fears. But while currency fluctuations will always cause a major impact on costs, local conditions such as high property prices can counterbalance the impact of currency movements.”

The fall of the Australian dollar over the past year saw our major cities witness some of the most dramatic falls in the 2016 ranking. Sydney is Australia’s most expensive city for expats in 42nd spot, dropping a modest 11 places. Brisbane dropped 30 spots to 96, Canberra dropped 33 places to 98, while Melbourne fell 22 spots to 71, the survey showed.

Moscow recorded one of the most spectacular price slides, falling from 17th costliest city for expats to 67th.

The world’s least expensive cities for expats, according to the survey, is the Namibian capital Windhoek, followed by Cape Town and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.

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