The latest expat benchmark for living costs around the world has Luanda, Angola, ranked as the world’s most expensive place to live.
Prices in the African country are not necessarily high for local goods and services, but the sky high cost of any imported expat treats sets Luanda ahead of the rest.
Angola was devastated by nearly three decades of civil war. Angola has huge oil supplies, but the average wage is just US$1 a day.
The same applies to fourth-placed D’Djamena, Chad, which is rich in gold, uranium and oil, but the people live in poverty and in fear of continuing civil unrest.
Chad is Africa’s fifth largest nation, comprising mainly desert, lying between Nigeria and Sudan in the sub-Sahara.
Tokyo has dropped down the ratings, thanks to Abenomics, the economic stimulus aimed at devaluing the yen, which is reinflating prices.
Singapore and Hong Kong’s placings are fuelled by hot property markets making rents high.
The comparisons between cities are based on a sample basket of goods and services.
For example, a cup of coffee costs $1.54 in Managua, Nicaragua compared to $8.29 in Moscow. A burger meal is $3.62 in Kolkata, India, but $13.49 in Caracas, Venezuela, and a cinema ticket is $5.91 in Johannesburg compared to $20.10 in London.
The zero rating is New York.
Housing is often the largest expense for employers. Expat housing is expensive in Moscow. A well-appointed two bedroom unfurnished apartment rents for $4,600 a month, while a similar flat in Karachi, Pakistan is 14 times cheaper at just $328
“The world is constantly changing. Successive political turmoil and economic problems lead to foreign exchange rate volatility and inflation, which makes some cities expensive places to live,” said Bob Marder, of expat benefits consultancy Mercer, which compiled the table.
“Angola produces a lot of oil but is still a poor country. Finding a secure place to live is also an expensive worry for expats.”
The Mercer 2013 Cost of Living Survey also explains the cost of living has increased in Europe due to the Swiss Franc growing stronger against the US dollar, whereas many Asian countries dropped in the rankings because their currencies weakened against the dollar.
Top 10 most expensive world cities
- Luanda, Angola
- Moscow, Russia
- Tokyo, Japan
- N’Djamena, Chad
- Hong Kong
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Bern, Switzerland
- Sydney, Australia
Source: Mercer 2013 Cost of Living Survey