A new survey shows that the most expensive cities in the world are mostly in Asia.
In the most recent iteration of their cost of living rankings, international human resources consulting firm Mercer found that of all the cities to live on Earth, 4 of the top 5 happened to be in Asia.
To generate their list, Mercer studied over 200 cities and compared an “international basket of goods” with over 200 different items and services. Everything from food, clothes, and entertainment to accommodation, transportation, and education was considered, with a hypothetical expatriate hopping from city to city with the same buying power in each one.
What they found was that Asia is increasingly becoming a difficult place to live. Of the top 10 locations, 4 were in China, one was in Japan, and the other in South Korea, making Asia the dominant continent in expensive cities.
At the top of the list was Hong Kong, internationally renowned as a center of finance, transportation, and international trade. As pointed out by Yvonne Traber, Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader at Mercer, “Stronger Chinese monetary regulation, a flourishing economy and a push to have the Chinese Yuan as an international currency pushed Chinese cities up in the ranking.”
In second place came Tokyo, the capital of Japan and widely regarded as the most crowded place on Earth. Simple supply and demand make it almost impossible to find reasonable accommodation in the city, pushing it high up on the list.
Zurich Switzerland takes third spot on the list thanks to Switzerland's comparatively high average income per resident. Another Swiss city, Bern, came in at 10th on the list.
Singapore came in fourth thanks to a rapidly developing economy, and Seoul South Korea bumped up a single spot to break its way into the top 5.
The big surprise this year was the sudden drop of Luanda Angola, previous the most expensive city in the world thanks to civil war eliminating most of the country’s domestically produced goods. The city has dropped to 6th in the rankings as infrastructure continues to improve and bring costs down.