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Human resource consultancy ECA International have released their findings to determine where is the most expensive city in the world for expats to live in. The Cost of Living 2020 report, which was published on December 15, analysed 488 locations and territories, and was carried out in March and September using a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by assignees.
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Hong Kong is the most expensive location in the world for expatriates, despite rental prices falling over the past 12 months. Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International said: “Hong Kong is the most expensive place in the world for overseas workers to live, in spite of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hong Kong is expensive across many areas that we consider as part of our research, but it is the especially high housing costs that push it to the number one spot.”
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Tokyo was ranked the second most expensive city, followed by New York and Switzerland’s Geneva and Zurich. Kilfedder said: “Locations across the world that depend on tourism economically have dropped in the latest rankings, as their currencies have weakened against some major currencies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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London is the 6th most expensive location in the world. According to the report, London’s ranking is largely attributed to high rental accommodation costs in areas popular with expatriates which are almost a third higher than in Geneva and twice as high as in Paris.
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Tel Aviv is the 7th most expensive city, followed by Seoul, San Francisco (pictured) and Yokohama, Japan, at 8th, 9th and 10th place respectively.
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The survey also noted that Australian cities had become more expensive for many expat workers in the past 12 months, resulting in every location in the country moving up the rankings and Sydney entering the global top 50.
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Once a costly place for businesses to send expatriates, Iceland’s Reykjavik is now ranked as the 63rd most expensive location to live, as the loss of tourism due to COVID-19 has impacted the currency, therefore driving down the cost. This trend was seen in numerous tourism hubs that have suffered the economic effects of minimal tourism as a result of the pandemic.
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Mumbai, India, fell 34 places to 94th place due to a combination of a weak rupee and cheaper rents in the city’s rental market. Meanwhile, some African countries have seen their rankings rise as their currencies are linked to the euro. Brazzaville, the continent’s new most expensive city, and Pointe Noire both in Congo, rank 19th and 33rd in the world after rising 10 and 8 places respectively despite low inflation as their currency, the Central African CFA franc, is pegged to the euro.
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According to the Cost of Living report, oil prices dragged down inflation globally. In the United States for example, the cost of petrol dropped by around 10%, while petrol in Saudi Arabia was just 32p per litre versus £1.82 in Hong Kong and £1.30 in London. In the UK, petrol prices fell by around 9% on last year and there were similar falls in France and Germany. The drop in oil global prices linked to weaker demand during the pandemic and the ensuing recession had effects on around the world.
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