The most expensive places in the world began to change in 2022, due to the lagging impact of the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, high energy prices, higher global inflation and the strong US Dollar.
Xpatulator collects the prices of over 200 items, grouped into 13 cost of living baskets, in 780 global locations and converts the prices to US Dollars for comparative purposes using New York City as the base location (New York Cost of Living Index = 100).
Singapore is the most expensive country-state in the world for Expatriate’s to live, with an overall cost of living index of 130 (where New York City has an index of 100), followed by Hong Kong and Lebanon.
Singapore has moved another 3 points above Hong Kong’s index of 125 since April 2022, to have a cost of living index 5 points higher than the second most expensive country-state.
Lebanon has experienced a cost of living crises in the past few years, and is now the third most expensive country-state in the world as at 1 July 2022 with a cost of living index of 111.
Singapore is the most expensive city in the world for Expatriate’s to live, with an overall cost of living index of 139.78. Singapore’s education system, which is widely regarded as the best in the world, is also the most expensive for expatriates when priced in US Dollars, the cost of housing is also extremely high due to the limited space and premium on high quality expatriate accommodation, while the complex Certificate of Entitlement system makes car prices excessive, resulting in Singapore’s transport costs being amongst the highest in the world.
Overall African countries are some of the poorest and least developed in the world, with relatively low local cost of living expenses; however the cost of importing and transporting the international standard of goods that expatriates expect to purchase in the cities in this region makes it extremely expensive to maintain the lifestyle that they are used to.
America Expat Cost of Living Comparison
Overall American countries and cities are extremely diverse ranging from the most developed, wealthy, technologically advanced and urbanised, through to some of the poorest, least developed as well as remote locations in the world, with a corresponding wide range in the cost of living. The cost of living is very high in high density, popular locations where demand for limited space, goods and services (housing, transport, education etc) often exceeds supply such as in San Francisco, Manhattan and San Jose. However in the most remote as well as in the poorest, least developed locations, the cost of importing, transporting and providing the international standard of goods and services that expatriates demand, also make them extremely expensive locations to maintain the lifestyle that they are used to.
Asia Pacific Expat Cost of Living Comparison
Asia Pacific has 2 of the 3 most expensive cities in the world. The cost of living for expats is particularly high in densely populated, popular wealthy locations where the demand for limited space, goods and services (housing, transport, education etc) exceeds supply such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Europe Expat Cost of Living Comparison
With a few exceptions, the most expensive cities in Europe are mostly the Non-Euro countries.
The euro is the second most traded currency in the world, managed by one central bank, the European Central Bank. The cost of living is generally more reasonable in the larger countries in Europe who use the euro as their currency. Their larger companies produce more at a lower cost, thus benefiting from economies of scale. They export their cheaper goods to the less-developed eurozone nations. Smaller companies in smaller European countries find it difficult to compete with relatively low prices. On the other hand the euro allows countries with weaker or smaller economies to enjoy lower interest rates because the euro isn’t as risky to investors as a currency with less demand. Over the years, lower interest rates have led to more foreign investment. This has boosted the smaller nations’ economies.
Middle East Expat Cost of Living Comparison
Overall Middle East countries have average local cost of living levels; however the cost of importing and transporting the international standard of goods that expatriates expect to purchase in the cities in this region can make it relatively expensive to maintain the lifestyle that they are used to.
Hong Kong is the most expensive city for Expats in the world with an overall Cost of Living Index (COLI), for all 13 basket groups, of 139.14 (New York =100).
Singapore is the second most expensive city in the world for Expatriate’s to live, with an overall cot of living index of 138.52.
A Cost of Living Index (COLI) is a numerical way of comparing cost of living, either over time, or by comparing the cost of living in different geographical locations. When comparing the cost of living between different locations the difference in the cost of living is expressed as an index by dividing the cost of living in Location A by the cost of living in Location B. The cost of living index indicates the difference in the cost of living between the two locations. In the graphics, the COLI for each location is the result of dividing each locations cost of living by the cost of living in New York NY (USA) using all 13 basket groups. New York therefore has a COLI of 100.
Khartoum in Sudan is the most expensive city for Expatriate’s to live, in the African region as at October 2020, with an overall cot of living index of 92.91.
Hong Kong is the most expensive city for Expats in the world as at July 2020, mainly due to extremely high housing costs (which counts for around 30% of the overall cost of living for most Expats), with limited space available making rentals high.
The world has changed dramatically in the past few months and we will continue to experience rapid change in the months to come. Without a vaccine that works long-term, there is no return to “normal”. There is only life with coronavirus.
Hong Kong is the most expensive place as at May 2020 mainly due to the very high cost of housing and healthcare, followed by Singapore.