Tokyo most expensive city for expatriates, New York is 33rd

Tokyo is the most expensive city for expats
A bustling shopping area in Tokyo, ranked as the most expensive city for expats
(Tiffany Hsu / Los Angeles Times)

Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live, topping a list on which half of the top 10 priciest places are in Asia.

Osaka and Nagoya, both in Japan, are also on the list, as are Singapore and Hong Kong. The rest of the top 10 includes Luanda in Angola, Ndjamena in Chad as well as Moscow, Geneva and Zurich in Europe.

The first time an American city shows up in the 214-city compilation is one-third down the list, with New York. But as the dollar strengthens against other currencies, other U.S. metropolises are rising in the ranks.

Los Angeles leaped nine spaces to 68th place while San Francisco rose 16 rungs to 90. Other expensive American cities for expats include Washington, D.C., Miami and Chicago.


As more employers go global, spreading their business abroad, scattering employees around the world has become par for the course.

The study, conducted among the 214 cities by human resources consultancy Mercer, examines the comparative cost of a basket of 200 categories, including transportation, housing, food and clothing. New York was used as the base city.

The European debt crisis has caused the cost of living to decline across the region as the euro slumps against the dollar. London fell seven places on the list, Paris slid 10 spots while Milan and Rome also tumbled.

There are 20 African cities in the top third of the rankings, mostly because the dearth of secure, quality accommodations pushes up the prices for the limited supply available. The high cost of imports also makes the international goods favored by expats more expensive.


Despite slowing growth in China, every city surveyed there — as well as in Australia, Japan and New Zealand — rose on the list. Karachi, in Pakistan, is the least expensive city for expats, coming in at less than a third the cost of living in Tokyo.


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