World’s Most Expensive Cities For Expats In 2020 Revealed
Photo Credit: @thompsonlxs_ via Twenty20

Photo Credit: @thompsonlxs_ via Twenty20

World’s Most Expensive Cities For Expats In 2020 Revealed

Europe , China , Japan , Switzerland
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jun 18, 2020

If you’re planning to live life as an expat and wondering where to go, this latest survey may help if you want to live in a country with a low cost of living. 

The professional services firm Mercer has released its annual “Cost of Living Survey” that compares the cost of living, rental accommodations, currency fluctuations,  cost inflation for goods and services, and the instability of accommodation prices across 400 cities around the world.

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According to the survey, Hong Kong tops the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Ashgabat, Turkmenistan in second place.

Tokyo and Zurich remain in third and fourth, and Singapore ranks fifth this year.

Mercer’s data was collected in March, so the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on prices aren’t reflected in the 2020 rankings just yet.

Surprising 2020 Findings

Six of the top 10 cities this year are located in Asia. Shanghai and Beijing ranked at seven and 10 respectively.

Switzerland leads as the most expensive place in Europe with Zurich in fourth,  Bern in eighth place, and Geneva ranked as ninth.

Lagos, Nigeria, which has established itself as Africa’s business capital, moved up to spot 18 in the rankings, one place ahead of London at 19.

Other Key Findings

The Americas

Cities in the United States have climbed in this year’s ranking of most costly cities. New York (6) is the highest-ranked city in the country followed by San Francisco (16) Los Angeles (17) Honolulu (28) and Chicago (30). 

Winston Salem, North Carolina (132) remains the least expensive US city surveyed for expatriates.

In South America, San Juan (66) ranks as the costliest city, followed by Port of Spain (73), San Jose (78) and Montevideo (88). Managua (198) is the least expensive city in South America.


Despite some low price increases across the region, several local currencies in Europe have weakened against the US dollar, pushing many cities down in the ranking.

As France and Italy’s economies shrank at the end of 2019, Eurozone growth came close to zero. Yet, there are no signs of crisis when it comes to inflation in any of the leading EU countries. The region saw cities like Paris (50), Milan (47) and Frankfurt (76) drop in this year’s ranking.

The Middle East and Africa

Tel Aviv (12) continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates, followed by Dubai (23), Riyadh (31), and Abu Dhabi (39). Cairo (126) remains the least expensive city in the region despite rising forty places.

Here’s the list of the 10 most expensive cities

1. Hong Kong, China

2. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

3. Tokyo, Japan

4. Zurich, Switzerland

5. Singapore

6. New York City, New York

7. Shanghai, China

8. Bern, Switzerland

9. Geneva, Switzerland

10. Beijing, China

View the full report by clicking here.

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