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European and Chinese Cities Rise, Japan Falls on Cost LIST

Four European cities are on the top 10 list of the most expensive cities for expatriates, in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey, with Chinese cities rising and Japanese cities falling in cost since last year’s ranking. Mercer’s survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. Mercer ranks 211 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location.

“Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies for the most part slightly strengthened against the US dollar, which pushed most Western European cities up in the ranking,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking. “There have been some increases in accommodation costs, due to strong demand for rentals, which has also been behind upward movement in rankings for some European cities — most notably Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.”

Constantin-Métral also noted that most cities in Eastern and Central Europe and Japan fell in the ranking as local currencies depreciated against the US dollar. “However, Chinese cities jumped in the ranking, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen, due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan,” she said.

Learn more about global costs for expatriates.

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