The cost of living in OZ

July 30, 2017

The cost of living in OZ

Australia’s largest cities have become more expensive places to live and work over the past year – but compared to our Asian neighbours, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth provide a veritable bargain for multi-national companies looking to establish an expat workforce in the region.

Mercer’s 2017 Cost of Living survey compares more than 400 cities across five continents and ranks the most expensive places to live and work abroad.

The first mention of an Australian city was Sydney, which came in at 25 – up from 43 last year – followed by Melbourne at 46 – up 25 places – and Perth at 50, 19 places ahead of its 2016 ranking. Canberra and Brisbane ranked equal 71st and Adelaide comes in at 77.

Simon Kennedy, Market Insights Practice Leader at Mercer, says Australian cities have all experienced jumps up the global cost of living ranks due in part, to a strong Australian dollar.

“It’s not surprising that Australia, and in particular Sydney, has climbed so rapidly in the ranks of the most expensive cities in the world to work and live,” Kennedy says. “But it’s not all bad news.”

Kennedy says eight of the top fifteen most expensive cities for expats are in Asia – Hong Kong (2) Tokyo (3), Singapore (5), Seoul (6), and Shanghai (8) are all ranked in the top 10 – which means Australia could be more cost-effective and attractive for businesses looking to send employees on international assignments.

“Already we have seen a large number of multi-national companies opening their doors in Australia due to our steady economic growth, low-risk environment and proven resilience to global volatility,” Kennedy says.

“Australia is seen as a safe destination with an exceptionally high quality of living standard. Combined, these factors are a huge drawcard when companies send expatriate workers abroad.”

The world’s most expensive city

The top 10 is packed with the most prestigious cities of Europe, Asia and the US – think Hong Kong, Geneva and New York – but the top spot belongs to none of these “super luxe” cities.

The honor of most expensive city in the world for expatriates goes to Luanda, the capital city of Angola.

Tens of thousands of American and European expats have landed in Luanda over the past decade, on consignment from multinational companies looking to tap in to Angola’s massive oil reserves. Currently, Angola produces 1.8 million barrels of oil a day.

The chief reason for the high cost of living in Luanda is largely due to accommodation costs. Supply of housing that expats typically choose to live in is limited in the country which still recovering from years of a bloody civil war; so prices tend to be high.

It’s not the first time that Luanda has topped the list in Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey; it was ranked first in 2014 and 2015, before dropping to second place in 2016.

The top 10

  1. LUANDA, Angola
  2. HONG KONG, Hong Kong
  3. TOKYO, Japan
  4. ZURICH, Switzerland
  5. SINGAPORE, Singapore
  6. SEOUL, South Korea
  7. GENEVA, Switzerland
  8. SHANGHAI, China
  9. NEW YORK CITY, United States
  10. BERN, Switzerland

The world’s most comprehensive survey

Mercer's authoritative survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expatriate employees.

The survey includes over 400 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

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