Expat Cost of Living Ranking 2019: Amsterdam falls 8 places

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After moving up the ranking drastically last year, this year Amsterdam has actually fallen a few places, taking 58th place as opposed to 50th in 2018. Last year, the Dutch capital...

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After moving up the ranking drastically last year, this year Amsterdam has actually fallen a few places, taking 58th place as opposed to 50th in 2018. Last year, the Dutch capital city jumped up 35 places!

Mercer Cost of Living Ranking 2019

The 2019 Cost of Living Ranking (COL) is Mercer’s 25th edition of the survey, which is used by companies to help determine fair allowances for expat assignees. The survey includes over 500 cities worldwide and the subsequent ranking for this year includes 209 cities across five continents. The ranking measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, for example, food, transportation, housing, entertainment, household goods and clothing.

To compare cities, New York is used as a base and currency movements are measured against the dollar. In the 2019 edition, eight of the 10 costliest cities in the world for expats are Asian! This is due to the high costs for expat consumer goods and the dynamic housing market. Hong Kong, as it did last year, ranks as the most expensive city for expats.

Amsterdam falls several places

In this year’s COL, Amsterdam falls several places from 50th to 58th. Amsterdam is, however, not the only Western European city to fall in the 2019 COL; Milan, Paris, Oslo and Madrid also dropped 12, 13, 14, 18 spots respectively. A few cities in Germany also dropped significantly. In the UK, cities slipped only a few places, London coming in at 23rd place, four places lower than in 2018.

So why have all these Western European cities slipped? Well, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar. Additionally, other factors have affected the region, such as security issues and concerns about the economic outlook. Despite all of this, one European city does make it into the top 10 most expensive, and that city is Zurich, taking 5th place in the ranking.

Top 10 most expensive cities for expats

As with last year and 2016, Hong Kong tops the list of most expensive cities for expats. Tokyo takes a firm second place, not moving from its position last year. Singapore comes in third, moving up one place compared to 2018. Seoul comes in fourth, moving up one place, and placing fifth is Zurich, falling two spots in comparison with its place in 2018.

  1. Hong Kong, HKSAR
  2. Tokyo, Japan
  3. Singapore, Singapore
  4. Seoul, South Korea
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Shanghai, China
  7. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  8. Beijing, China
  9. New York City, United States
  10. Shenzhen, China

For more information, visit the Mercer Cost of Living Ranking 2019.


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