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The world’s most expensive cities for working abroad

Many working abroad will consider holding a job beyond their native borders an incredible experience, but doing so can also be quite damaging for wallet.
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Mercer has released its 2017 Global Talent Trends Study, which reveals the cost of living when working abroad. 

There are an increasing number of international job opportunities, according to the firm, which is resulting in companies battling each other to stay competitive with incentives on offer.

As the market shifts constantly, the cost of living can be a concern for professionals working abroad, with expenses around housing, goods and services considered unstable.

Where expatriates are concerned, the findings showed that Asian and European cities are particularly expensive. Those working abroad in the likes of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore are among those likely to feel the burn.

“Globalisation of the marketplace is well documented with many companies operating in multiple locations around the world and promoting international assignments to enhance the experience of future managers,” said Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Career business.

“There are numerous personal and organisational advantages for sending employees overseas, whether for long- or short-term assignments, including career development by obtaining global experience, the creation and transfer of skills, and the re-allocation of resources.” 

The study looked at more than 400 cities across five continents, observing the cost of over 200 items in all locations, inclusive of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

As such, the ten most expensive cities for working abroad are:

Mercer Cost of Living Survey – Worldwide Rankings 2017

(Mercer international basket, including rental accommodation costs)

Rank as of March City Country
2016 2017
2 1 Luanda Angola
1 2 Hong Kong Hong Kong
5 3 Tokyo Japan
3 4 Zurich Switzerland
4 5 Singapore Singapore
15 6 Seoul South Korea
8 7 Geneva Switzerland
7 8 Shanghai China
11 9 New York City United States
13 10 Bern Switzerland

 

“While historically mobility, talent management, and rewards have been managed independently of one another, organisations are now using a more holistic approach to enhance their mobility strategies,” added Bonic.

“Compensation is important to be competitive and must be determined appropriately based on the cost of living, currency, and location.”

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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