Amplified by the global health crisis and the conflict in Ukraine, skyrocketing inflation and currency volatility are affecting international economic balances and the cost of living for each of us. For organizations with globally distributed workforces, assessing and managing the impact on their employees’ financial wellbeing may be particularly complex.
 

Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey provides employers with current, extensive and reliable data to help them navigate compensation strategies for their mobile employees in the unpredictable global markets.
 

So what are the most expensive cities in the world for international employees?

Hong Kong tops Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living City Ranking, based on our latest research, followed by Zurich and Geneva, while Ankara closes the ranking at the 227th spot.
 

Check out the full ranking below and visit our Newsroom for more local insights in the press releases from across geographies.


Most and least expensive cities
  • Accessible description

    This map presents the most and least expensive cities in the world for international employees.

    The top 10 most expensive cities are, in order from rank 1 to rank 10: Hong Kong, Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Tel Aviv, New York City, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing.
    The 10 least expensive cities are, in order from rank 218 to 227: Algiers, Almaty, Tunis, Tashkent, Istanbul, Karachi, Islamabad, Dushanbe, Bishkek, Ankara.


2022 Cost of Living City Ranking

Hong Kong SAR 

1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

Zurich 

2. Zurich, Switzerland

Geneva 

3. Geneva, Switzerland

  • View the full city ranking

     

    Rank City Location
    1 Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR
    2 Zurich Switzerland
    3 Geneva Switzerland
    4 Basel Switzerland
    5 Bern Switzerland
    6 Tel Aviv Israel
    7 New York City, NY United States
    8 Singapore Singapore
    9 Tokyo Japan
    10 Beijing China
    11 Copenhagen Denmark
    12 Shanghai China
    13 Shenzhen China
    14 Seoul South Korea
    15 London United Kingdom
    16 Nassau Bahamas
    17 Los Angeles, CA United States
    18 Guangzhou China
    19 San Francisco, CA United States
    20 Honolulu, HI United States
    21 Vienna Austria
    22 Qingdao China
    23 Bangui Central African Republic
    24 Libreville Gabon
    25 Amsterdam Netherlands
    26 Nanjing China
    27 Oslo Norway
    28 Taipei Taiwan
    29 Washington, DC United States
    30 Boston, MA United States
    31 Dubai United Arab Emirates
    32 Miami, FL United States
    33 Munich Germany
    34 Busan South Korea
    35 Paris France
    36 Chicago, IL United States
    37 Osaka Japan
    38 Victoria Seychelles
    39 Brussels Belgium
    40 Shenyang China
    41 Djibouti Djibouti
    42 Atlanta, GA United States
    43 Helsinki Finland
    44 Chengdu China
    45 Seattle, WA United States
    46 Berlin Germany
    47 The Hague Netherlands
    48 Milan Italy
    49 Dublin Ireland
    50 Yokohama Japan
    51 Nagoya Japan
    52 Luxembourg Luxembourg
    53 Kinshasa The Democratic Republic Of The Congo
    54 Noumea New Caledonia
    55 Lagos Nigeria
    56 Chongqing China
    57 Rome Italy
    58 Sydney Australia
    59 Hamburg Germany
    60 Prague Czech Republic
    61 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
    62 Frankfurt Germany
    63 Xian China
    64 Luanda Angola
    65 Dakar Senegal
    66 Edinburgh United Kingdom
    67 Melbourne Australia
    68 Abidjan Côte D'Ivoire
    69 Suzhou China
    70 Philadelphia, PA United States
    71 Stuttgart Germany
    72 San Juan Puerto Rico
    73 Wuhan China
    74 Brazzaville The Republic Of Congo
    75 Dallas, TX United States
    76 Conakry Guinea Republic
    77 Douala Cameroon
    78 Barcelona Spain
    79 Riga Latvia
    80 N'Djamena Chad
    81 Dusseldorf Germany
    82 Pittsburgh, PA United States
    83 Minneapolis, MN United States
    84 Brisbane Australia
    85 Houston, TX United States
    86 Glasgow United Kingdom
    87 Stockholm Sweden
    88 Pointe-A-Pitre Guadeloupe (France)
    89 Toronto Canada
    90 Madrid Spain
    91 Portland, OR United States
    92 Taichung Taiwan
    93 Aberdeen United Kingdom
    94 Birmingham United Kingdom
    95 Auckland New Zealand
    96 Lyon France
    97 Perth Australia
    98 Dhaka Bangladesh
    99 Leipzig Germany
    100 Yaounde Cameroon
    101 St. Louis, MO United States
    102 Adelaide Australia
    103 Riyadh Saudi Arabia
    104 Canberra Australia
    105 Bratislava Slovakia
    106 Bangkok Thailand
    107 Detroit, MI United States
    108 Vancouver Canada
    109 Lisbon Portugal
    110 Toulouse France
    111 Jeddah Saudi Arabia
    112 Cleveland, OH United States
    113 Kaohsiung Taiwan
    114 Buenos Aires Argentina
    115 Amman Jordan
    116 Nuremberg Germany
    117 Manama Bahrain
    118 Bamako Mali
    119 Muscat Oman
    120 Wellington New Zealand
    121 Belfast United Kingdom
    122 Manila Philippines
    123 Montevideo Uruguay
    124 Lome Togo
    125 Montreal Canada
    126 Athens Greece
    127 Mumbai India
    128 Cotonou Benin
    129 Harare Zimbabwe
    130 Santiago Chile
    131 Kuwait City Kuwait
    132 Ottawa Canada
    133 Doha Qatar
    134 Phnom Penh Cambodia
    135 Port Of Spain Trinidad & Tobago
    136 Guatemala City Guatemala
    137 Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
    138 Niamey Niger
    139 San Jose Costa Rica
    140 Tallinn Estonia
    141 Calgary Canada
    142 Havana Cuba
    143 Casablanca Morocco
    144 Bujumbura Burundi
    145 Ljubljana Slovenia
    146 Accra Ghana
    147 Abuja Nigeria
    148 Vilnius Lithuania
    149 Mexico City Mexico
    150 Hanoi Vietnam
    151 Jakarta Indonesia
    152 Panama City Panama
    153 Kingston Jamaica
    154 Cairo Egypt
    155 New Delhi India
    156 Quito Ecuador
    157 Vientiane Lao People'S Democratic Republic
    158 Bucharest Romania
    159 Zagreb Croatia
    160 Nairobi Kenya
    161 Tirana Albania
    162 Rabat Morocco
    163 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
    164 Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
    165 Limassol Cyprus
    166 Kampala Uganda
    167 Maputo Mozambique
    168 Sao Paulo Brazil
    169 Nouakchott Mauritania
    170 Sofia Bulgaria
    171 Port-Au-Prince Haiti
    172 Lima Peru
    173 Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
    174 Warsaw Poland
    175 Belgrade Serbia
    176 Rio De Janeiro Brazil
    177 Chennai India
    178 Bengaluru India
    179 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
    180 Budapest Hungary
    181 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
    182 San Salvador El Salvador
    183 Colombo Sri Lanka
    184 Blantyre Malawi
    185 Monterrey Mexico
    186 Baku Azerbaijan
    187 Wroclaw Poland
    188 Antananarivo Madagascar
    189 Tegucigalpa Honduras
    190 Krakow Poland
    191 Port Louis Mauritius
    192 Hyderabad India
    193 Johannesburg South Africa
    194 Cape Town South Africa
    195 Asuncion Paraguay
    196 La Paz Bolivia
    197 Yerevan Armenia
    198 Yangon Myanmar
    199 Lusaka Zambia
    200 Brasilia Brazil
    201 Pune India
    202 Banjul Gambia
    203 Kolkata India
    204 Minsk Belarus
    205 Bogota Colombia
    206 Skopje Macedonia
    207 Manaus Brazil
    208 Kigali Rwanda
    209 Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina
    210 Belo Horizonte Brazil
    211 Johor Bahru Malaysia
    212 Managua Nicaragua
    213 Windhoek Namibia
    214 Addis Ababa Ethiopia
    215 Gaborone Botswana
    216 Durban South Africa
    217 Tbilisi Georgia
    218 Algiers Algeria
    219 Almaty Kazakhstan
    220 Tunis Tunisia
    221 Tashkent Uzbekistan
    222 Istanbul Türkiye
    223 Karachi Pakistan
    224 Islamabad Pakistan
    225 Dushanbe Tajikistan
    226 Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
    227 Ankara Türkiye

The return of high inflation

…and what it means for purchasing power across markets.


With the recent return of high inflation across the globe, employees are increasingly concerned about their purchasing power, resulting in salary increase expectations. Companies, on the other hand, need to strike a delicate balance between controlling their costs while struggling to attract and retain talent.
 

Addressing these issues with regard to internationally mobile employees is a complex and significant challenge for multinational employers.

They may adopt various strategies to protect the purchasing power of their international workforce in times of market volatility, but it’s important that they understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. The consequences of their decisions will impact both the business and the financial wellbeing of their employees. Mercer has created a practical guide that can help you understand and navigate this complexity.

Download our practical guide for advice on managing international employees’ purchasing power in times of high inflation



The charts below show the price movement* of everyday items across selected locations

Gasoline
  • Accessible description

    This infographic shows the movement of gasoline prices across selected locations. By far, the highest price increase occurred in Istanbul, followed by Los Angeles, Barcelona, New York City and Berlin. No price movement occurred for Dakar. Gasoline price decrease did not occur in any of the locations. The data refer to one liter of gasoline, unleaded 95 octane.

Cooking oil
  • Accessible description

    This infographic shows the movement of cooking oil prices across selected locations. The highest price increase occurred in Barcelona, followed by Istanbul, Dublin, Beijing and Warsaw. No price movement occurred in Berlin, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Tokyo. Price decrease occurred in Mumbai, Seoul, Dubai, Toronto and Johannesburg. The data refer to cooking oil (1 lt / 33.8 oz / 920 gr).

Beer
  • Accessible description

    This infographic shows the movement of beer prices across selected locations. By far, the highest price increase occurred in Istanbul. No price movement occurred in 9 out of the 25 cities. The most significant price decrease occurred in Warsaw, followed by Berlin, Nairobi, Toronto and Beijing. The data refer to international branded beer (0.33l / 11.2oz).

Bread
  • Accessible description

    This infographic shows the movement of bread prices across selected locations. The highest price increase occurred in Istanbul, Mexico City, São Paulo, Dublin and Warsaw. No price movement occurred in Beijing, Berlin, Dakar, Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul and Sydney. The most significant price decrease occurred in New York City, Los Angeles, Dubai, Johannesburg and Mumbai. The data refer to white sliced toast bread (1000 gr / 35.3 oz).


*Source: Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living Survey. The comparison is based on data collected between September 2021 and March 2022. No price movement occurred for certain locations.


Where cost of living meets quality

Cost of living is one of the key factors of city attractiveness for international talent, business and investments, but what do we learn when we also take quality of living into account?
 

Competition among cities is fierce, especially in times of galloping inflation hitting the majority of locations around the world. Which cities are currently best positioned to attract and retain top talent and international businesses?
 

A city’s attractiveness is based on a number of factors, and while the cost of life is clearly an important one, other components include the affordability of housing, the quality of life based on a range of factors such as safety, sanitation, eco-friendliness or education standards, as well as governance and taxation considerations.
 

The infographic on the right shows the results of our analysis that takes into account a combination of selected factors, drawing on Mercer’s latest cost of living and quality of living research.

  • Accessible description

    This infographic shows the correlation between the Cost of Living Index and Quality of Living Index for selected global cities, as well as their score in the Eco-City Index. Some of the locations with the lowest cost of living and highest quality of living are Vancouver, Toronto, Stockholm, Lisbon and Frankfurt. Hong Kong has the highest cost of living but lower quality of living than many other locations. The general trend shows that the locations with higher cost of living and quality of living also rank higher for eco-friendliness.
     

    ¹Source: Mercer's Quality of Living Survey September 2021-2022.
    New York City (NY), US is used as the benchmark for the calculations.

    ²Source: Mercer's Cost of Living Survey March 2022.
    New York City (NY), US is used as the benchmark for the calculations.

    ³Source: Mercer's Quality of Living Survey September 2021-2022.
    Mercer Eco-City Index includes quality of living criteria such as water potability, waste removal, air pollution, etc. New York City (NY), US is used as the benchmark for the calculations.



What makes a city attractive for international talent?

How can you ensure your mobile employees stay happy and efficient in the 
assignment location?
 

In a recent webinar, our consultants shared highlights of Mercer’s latest global cost of living and quality of living research, ​and what it means for organizations and cities looking to attract and retain international talent.


  • Video transcript

    Good afternoon, good morning everyone. Welcome to our webinar dedicated to the latest trends related to the cost of living, quality of living and city attractiveness.
     

    In today’s webinar, my colleague Vadim, Mercer Senior Consultant in the US, joins me as a co-speaker.
     

    Let’s discuss the agenda, as we have a lot of topics to cover. We’re going to look at several aspects explored in our latest mobility trends surveys. We’ll be looking at internationally mobile employees’ experience as well as running international assignments in difficult times, and one of the examples we’ll consider is the situation in China.
     

    Then we’ll move on to mobility data trends and talk more in-depth about inflation issues, which is currently a hot topic in light of the pandemic, currency exchange fluctuations and so on.
     

    Finally, we’ll share some considerations around city attractiveness, looking at its two components – cost of living and quality of living – how they both impact city attractiveness and what are the links between them. 



Mercer’s Cost of Living data and research

Mercer’s annual  Cost of Living city ranking is based on our Cost of Living data research - one of the most recognized and extensive surveys of its kind, encompassing over 400 cities around the world. Carried out twice per year, the survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments around the world determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees.
 

How we calculate the cost of living index

In addition to evaluating more than 200 goods and services, Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey highlights essential factors — such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation and accommodation price instability — in determining the cost of packages for internationally mobile employees.


To help ensure the highest relevance of the data we provide, Mercer continuously keeps its Cost of Living Research methodology abreast with the latest trends, adjusting it to the international market developments and international assignees’ spending patterns. 
 

Mercer inflation definition
Inflation is generally defined as the measure of price movements from time T to time T+1, using exactly the same specification of item in terms of packaging size and characteristics.
Therefore, for the purpose of Mercer’s Cost of Living survey, Mercer’s inflation quoted figure is designed to provide an indication of how the index has moved in the last six or 12 months in local currency terms, regardless of the currency fluctuations between the home and the host location.

The overall Cost of Living Index reflects the prices of over 200 items from the following categories:

Housing

Utilities

Domestic supplies

Personal care

Recreation and entertainment

Transportation

Food

Home services

Clothing and footwear

Alcohol and tobacco



Meet our mobility consultants