Tips & News

These Are the World’s Most Expensive Cities to Live in 2020

Hong Kong comes out on top, again.

By Veronica Inveen

Jun 15, 2020

IF YOU NEED SOME SENSE of normalcy during these very, very weird times, don’t worry, Hong Kong is still the most expensive city in the world to live as an expat. Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey revealed that for the third consecutive year—and fourth time in the past five years—Hong Kong tops the list as the priciest place to live and work in the world. Despite the city’s tumultuous year dealing with protests and a pandemic, its notoriously expensive property market once again ensured they topped the league.

Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, took a surprising leap from No. 7 in 2019 to No. 2 in this year’s list. The city might not be what comes to mind when you think of lush living, but it surpassed Tokyo (No.3), Zurich (No.4), Singapore (No.5), and New York (No.6) in the rankings. Mercer told Forbes, “Turkmenistan has been witnessing an important economic and social crisis, combined with hyperinflation.” The supply and demand balance was upended as the costs of importing food and raw materials surged.

If you are wondering why cities like Shenzhen, China (No. 13), are listed as more expensive than, say, Paris, it’s because Mercer, a U.S.-based financial consultancy firm, had designed the survey to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees, using the U.S. dollar as a measurement and New York City as a base city for all comparisons. The countries whose currency has been overperforming against the U.S. dollar tend to be higher up in ranking.

Mercer also notes that the global health and economic crisis has recently caused many companies to leverage new working arrangements and consider alternate forms of international assignments to sustain their overseas workforces. New approaches to office space, working from home, and redeployment of employees may cause next year’s list to look a whole lot different.

TOP 10 COST OF LIVING 2020 RANKINGS

1. Hong Kong 

2. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

3. Tokyo, Japan

4. Zurich, Switzerland

5. Singapore

6. New York City, USA

7. Shanghai, China

8. Bern, Switzerland

9. Geneva, Switzerland

10. Beijing, China

See the full ranking here.

Hotels & Resorts

World’s Best Awards 2021: Top 100 Hotels in the World

The top 100 Best Hotels Overall in 2021 as voted by our readers in the World’s Best Awards.

Tips & News

This Gourmet Food Festival Is Including a Dinner by Stranded Refugees in Its Lineup

Why #cheflife is as much about Michelin two-starred headliners as unknown refugees. This year’s annual World Gourmet Festival in Bangkok will help some of the globe’s neediest make a new life for themselves and their families.

Inspiration

4 New Hobbies to Pick UP on Your Next Staycation

If you’ve ever dreamed of mastering calligraphy, drumming or gardening—all while staying in style—Capella Singapore has you covered.

Hotels & Resorts

Le Méridien Taipei

Le Méridien Taipei, the hotel group’s first Taiwan property, stands out from Xinyi district’s crowd of business hotels with its arts-oriented approach.

VIDEO: Top 8 Things to do in Phuket While Sandboxing

Tourism Authority of Thailand’s new Happy Paradise campaign is just another reason you should start planning your trip to Phuket.