The 20 Most Expensive Cities For Expats, According To A 2024 Study

A recent study by Mercer, a leading consulting firm in human resources and financial services, has revealed the top 20 most expensive cities for expats in 2024. The study analyzed 226 cities worldwide, considering over 200 items to evaluate the comparative costs of living expenses.

Hong Kong retains its position as the most expensive city in the world for international employees, followed closely by Singapore. Switzerland takes up four spots on the list, with Western Europe accounting for half of the top 10 most expensive cities. Southeast Asia cities, however, dominate the list, with countries like Indonesia and Malaysia experiencing significant increases in living costs due to inflation and exchange-rate fluctuations.

Several factors contribute to the high cost of living in these cities, including expensive housing markets, high transportation costs, and higher prices for goods and services. Inflation, geopolitical volatility, and localized conflicts also impact international mobile employees or those on assignments, leading to additional expenses in categories such as housing, utilities, and taxes.

The study highlights notable changes from last year, with Mexico City jumping up 46 places to No. 33, and Monterrey moving up 40 places to No. 115. Dubai, a popular destination for expats, has risen to the 15th most expensive city in the world, while African cities like Accra, Addis Ababa, and Cairo have seen significant increases due to high inflation.

Here is the list of the top 20 most expensive cities for expats in 2024:

1. Hong Kong, China

2. Singapore

3. Zurich, Switzerland

4. Geneva, Switzerland

5. Basel, Switzerland

6. Bern, Switzerland

7. New York City, New York, United States

8. London, United Kingdom

9. Nassau, Bahamas

10. Los Angeles, California, United States

11. Copenhagen, Denmark

12. Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

13. San Francisco, California, United States

14. Bangui, Central African Republic

15. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

16. Tel Aviv, Israel

17. Miami, Florida, United States

18. Djibouti

19. Boston, Massachusetts, United States

20. Chicago, Illinois, United States

Source: Forbes