Zurich most expensive European city for expats, says Mercer

Three European cities, not including London, appear in a list of the top most expensive cities in the world for expatriates, according to the latest research from Mercer. Zurich (in third place globally) is the most costly European city, followed by Geneva (in fifth place) and Bern (ninth). Western European cities generally dropped down the ranking in the latest survey due principally to the weakening of local currencies against the US dollar.

However, many UK cities maintained their positions because, although Sterling weakened against the dollar, the Euro dropped even further; London is just out of the top 10 in 12th place. Tel Aviv (18th place) is the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates. Several African cities continue to rank among the top 10 in the world, due to the high cost of imported goods and the fact that maintaining safe living conditions for expatriates in countries like Angola is very expensive.

Mercer’s 21st annual cost of living survey finds that factors including the instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services impacts significantly on the overall cost of doing business in a global market. Three-quarters of the employers in the survey expect long-term expatriate assignments to remain stable or increase over the next two years in order to address business needs.

Ellyn Karetnick, Head of International Mobility at Mercer, said:

‘Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar which pushed most Western European cities down in the ranking. While currency fluctuations have a major impact on costs, local conditions like high property prices or a two-tier economy for expats and nationals, as in the case of Luanda, can counter balance the impact of currency movements.

Companies must understand, globally, where their employees are heading to and coming from to help manage these costs. This is no easy task in multinationals with thousands of employees crisscrossing the world. Hand-in-hand with this must come frequent reviews of expat pay packages. Local circumstances can change so fast that companies must be able to adjust their expat pay levels – to hold on to talent and manage their costs.’
‘Cost of Living Survey’ was published by Mercer in June 2015. For more details visit www.mercer.com/col