African Cities Costly for Expats, Continuing Global Trend

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September/October 2014

African Cities Costly for Expats, Continuing Global Trend

African cities costly for expats


Two African cities — Luanda in Angola and N’Djamena in Chad — top the list of the most expensive cities for expatriates in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey. It was the second year in a row that Luanda ranked highest, in part due to such factors as the premium price of imported goods, whereas much richer cities such as Singapore, Geneva, and Tokyo ranked lower.

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.


Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey finds that no single region dominates when it comes to expatriate living expenses, with cities in Africa, Asia, and Europe in the top 10. (See Figure 1.) Despite their relative wealth, cities in the Americas and the Middle East are not represented among the most expensive cities surveyed.


The cost of everyday items — such as milk and blue jeans — reflects the vast differences in cost of living for expatriate workers around the world, and not always in ways that might be expected. For instance, the cost of a pair of blue jeans is more than twice as high in Buenos Aires compared with New York City. (See Figure 2.) Meanwhile, the cost of a liter of whole milk is more than four times more expensive in Moscow compared with London. (See Figure 3.)


Learn more about Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, a valuable resource for employers with globally mobile workers.



Ed Hannibal (Chicago)
Global Leader for Mobility
+1 312 917 9297
Nathalie Constantin-Métral (Geneva)
Principal, Global Mobility
+41 22 869 30 04

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