Hong Kong jan2019
An aerial view of Hong Kong city skyline. Image Credit: File photo

Regional finance hubs Hong Kong and Singapore have topped a new global list of the world's most expensive cities for expatriates, keeping Swiss destinations out of the top spots for the second year in a row.

High rental costs saw the rival cities beat Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern to the top of the table, according to Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living report.

New York fell one spot to land in seventh place. London took eighth place, rising nine spots since last year's ranking.

Mercer measured the comparative cost of more than 200 items and services - including housing, transport, food, clothing and household goods - to come up with its ranking of 226 cities.

Mercer's report said rising housing costs and ‘volatile inflation trends’ were putting pressure on expat workers' compensation packages.

"Cost-of-living challenges have had a significant impact on multinational organisations and their employees," said Yvonne Traber, Mercer's global mobility leader, in a press release.

"High living costs may cause assignees to adjust their lifestyle, cut back on discretionary spending or even struggle to meet their basic needs," Traber said. "To offset these challenges, employers can offer compensation packages that include housing allowances or subsidies or provide other support services."