It’s that time of year again: Consulting firm ECA has come out with its annual list naming the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates. Joy. Take a guess which one of China’s cities was ranked most expensive for international assignees in 2013 and which city didn’t even make the global top 25.
The list, based on findings of the latest Cost of Living survey by ECA International, showed that within China, Beijing is considered to be the most expensive city for expats, with its global ranking coming in at 15—that’s six spots up from its global ranking of 21 last year. Shanghai this year stood at 18 globally, moving up seven spots from last year’s ranking.
Hong Kong didn’t even make the top 25 cut for global rankings, lagging behind at 28 (eighth in the region).
Tokyo, which was ranked the number one most expensive city for expats last year, has dropped down to 10th place globally but still remains Asia’s most expensive city.
Caracas, Venezuela topped the list globally this year, moving up from its 7th-place ranking last year. Luanda, Angola; Oslo, Norway; and Juba, South Sudan took the next three spots.
The company looked at costs of an “international lifestyle” that included meals, clothing, groceries and basic expenses. The cost of housing in each city, however, is not represented in the findings, as it is assumed to be compensated by multinational employers.
Were cost of rent factored into the results, China’s cities’ standings would, of course, look drastically different: “It’s important to remember that certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are not included in our cost of living basket,” said Lee Quane, Asia’s Regional Director of ECA International.
“Because these costs are usually addressed separately by an expatriate’s employer, we collect this data separately. But if we were to include such costs, Hong Kong and Tokyo would be higher in the ranking, while Beijing would be significantly cheaper due to lower housing costs.”
In a survey from earlier this year that ranked the world’s most expensive cities overall, Hong Kong ranked 14th worldwide and fourth in Asia behind Tokyo, Osaka, and Singapore.
Mainland Chinese cities, which were listed separately from Hong Kong in terms of country, saw living costs climb significantly in the past year, fuelled by rising wages, increased consumer demand and tighter currency controls.
Shanghai, up 11 spots from last year, was the priciest mainland city, followed by Guangzhou and Shanghai’s neighbour, Suzhou.