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North America overtakes Asia in cost of living

  • North American locations account for almost a third of the top 100 most expensive locations compared to only five in 2014.
  • A strong performance from the US dollar has seen all US locations rise by an average of 18 places, with eight locations featured in the top 50
  • Canadian locations also saw big rises with Vancouver (91st) and Ottawa (96th) returning to the top 100

The latest Cost of Living report from global mobility specialist, ECA International (ECA) reveals that  North America now accounts for almost a third of the top 100 most expensive locations in the world, with 30 cities located in either the USA or Canada overtaking Asia which has 28 in the top 100.

According to the report, a strong performance from the US dollar has seen all US locations rise by an average of 18 places, with eight locations featured in the top 50 and New York returning to the global top 20 for the first time in four years. This continues a trend which has seen 28 US locations enter the top 100, compared to just five in 2014.

The continent’s strong performance has also seen seven European locations drop out of the top 100 most expensive in ECA’s cost of living ranking.

ECA International’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in more than 480 locations worldwide. The survey helps businesses to ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments. ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years.

Canadian locations also saw big increases, rising 20 places on average with Vancouver (91st) and Ottawa (96th) returning to the top 100. Toronto (101st) and Montreal (124th) remain outside the top 100 but did increase 23 and 12 places respectively.

Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International, said: “The strength of the US dollar has made the US more expensive for workers and businesses looking to move to the country with 28 cities in the top 100 – more than five times as many as five years ago. On the other hand, US companies are benefitting from the cheaper cost of sending staff abroad to locations in Europe and China.”

Global top 20 most expensive locations for expatriates
Location
Country
2019 Ranking
Ashgabat
Turkmenistan
1
Tokyo
Japan
2
Zurich
Switzerland
3
Geneva
Switzerland
4
Basel
Switzerland
5
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
6
Bern
Switzerland
7
Yokohama
Japan
8
Tel Aviv
Israel
9
Nagoya
Japan
10
Osaka
Japan
11
Jerusalem
Israel
12
Singapore
Singapore
13
Oslo
Norway
14
New York
United States of America
15
Seoul
Korea Republic
16
Stavanger
Norway
17
Macau
Macau
18
Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of the Congo
19
Honolulu HI
United States of America
20
 
-ENDS-
 

Notes to Editors

About ECA International

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully-integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

About ECA's Cost of Living Survey

ECA International's cost of living surveys are carried out in March and September using a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by assignees. The data used above refers to year-on-year movements between ECA's September 2018 and September 2019 surveys. ECA’s Cost of Living Survey rankings began in 2005.

Cost of living indices are used by ECA clients to calculate cost of living allowances for assignees. The survey covers:

  • Food: Groceries; dairy produce; meat and fish; fresh fruit and vegetables 
  • Basic: Household goods; recreational goods; general services; leisure services
  • General: Clothing; electrical goods; motoring; meals out; alcohol and tobacco

Certain living costs such as accommodation rental, utilities charges (electricity, gas, and water), car purchases and school fees are not included in the survey. Such items can make a significant difference to expenses but are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages.

This comparison of cost of living was calculated on a base composed of various developed countries and is used to reflect an international lifestyle. Other indices available from ECA reflect specific city-to-city comparisons and different levels of shopping efficiency.

For further information, please contact:

Jack Firth 
Tel: +44 0 20 7351 5000
Email: Jack.Firth@eca-international.com

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