The world’s most expensive cities

Caracas, Venezuela remains the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to the latest ECA Cost of Living survey.

ECA’s Cost of Living survey is combiled bi-annually, in March and September, and tracks the year-on-year fluctutations in cost for the same basket of goods and services in cities across the world.

Since the last survey in September 2013, Caracas has remained in the top spot as the most expensive city – but on a year-on-year bases the city has shot up from 32nd position in March 2013.

“Caracas, Venezuela, overtook Oslo in Norway six months ago to become the most expensive place in the world for expatriates,” ECA said.

“At that time, it was widely anticipated that a devaluation of the bolivar would take place and that cost of living in Caracas would subsequently fall. This has not yet happened and, while a parallel exchange rate exists, it does not seem to be widely available.”

Annual inflation in Venezuela is now over 80% and the cost of living in Caracas is currently 40% higher than second-placed Oslo, ECA said.

African cities

In Africa, Luanda remains the most expensive city on the continent, though has slipped to third, following Oslo, since September 2013.

Juba (9th), Brazzaville (12th) and Libreville (14th) are the other highest ranked expensive African cities measured.

“The high costs involved in importing and transporting international goods into these countries contributes to making them expensive for expatriates,” ECA said.

Maseru, Lesotho, remains the cheapest location in Africa and in the ranking, while ECA said that locations in Ghana, Namibia and South Africa have continued to fall in the global ranking of most expensive locations.

“Their weak currencies continue to make them cheaper locations for many employees being relocated there.”

Top 25 most expensive cities in the world

# City Country March 2013
September 2013
1 Caracas Venezuela 32 1
2 Oslo Norway 1 3
3 Luanda Angola 2 2
4 Zurich Switzerland 7 6
5 Geneva Switzerland 8 7
6 Stavanger Norway 3 5
7 Bern Switzerland 10 8
8 Basel Switzerland 9 9
9 Juba South Sudan 4 4
10 Copenhagen Denmark 12 11
11 Tokyo Japan 6 10
12 Brazzaville Congo 18 13
13 Helsinki Finland 20 14
14 Libreville Gabon 30 17
15 Pointe Noire Congo 24 22
16 Seoul Korea Republic 14 21
17 Stockholm Sweden 15 19
18 Shanghai China 25 18
19 Kinshasa Congo 19
20 Beijing China 23 15
21 Tel Aviv Isreal 36 24
22 Moscow Russia 5 12
23 Nagoya Japan 13 16
24 Yokohama Japan 16 20
25 Jerusalem Israel 43 27

ECA International’s cost of living indices are calculated based on surveys carried out annually in March and September, using a basket of day-to-day goods and services:

  • Food: Groceries; dairy produce; meat and fish; fresh fruit and vegetables;
  • Basic: Drink and tobacco; miscellaneous goods; services;
  • General: Clothing; electrical goods; motoring; meals out;

The data represented in this article refers to year-on-year movements between ECA’s March 2013 and March 2014 surveys, with September 2013 added for reference.

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The world’s most expensive cities