If you are moving talent into the cities that are highest ranked in this years' annual cost of living survey from Mercer, then your expatriate program expenses are probably verifying this report. In their 25th annual cost of living survey, Mercer measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. By looking at the cost of a basket of goods they are able to compare city to city. The ranking looks at 209 cities around the world. 

Eight of the top 10 cities named in the Cost of Living survey are in Asia, up from six entries in 2018 and for the second year in a row, Hong Kong leads the pack, in large part due to the high cost of accommodations. Currency fluctuations also supported it remaining at the top of the list.  

Here is the top 10 list:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo
  3. Singapore
  4. Seoul
  5. Zurich
  6. Shanghai
  7. Ashgabat
  8. Beijing
  9. New York
  10. Shenzhen

Maybe the most surprising city on the list is Ashgabat in Turkey which climbed 36 spots all the way up to seventh place primarily as a result of a shortage of currency and imports goods driving up costs. New York jumped up four places, breaking into the top 10, as a result of the dollar's strength. Luanda dropped from sixth place out of the top 20.

See Mercer's website for regional insights and further commentary on the full results.