Australian cities slide in global cost-of-living rankings

Hong Kong was the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row.

Hong Kong was the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row. Photo: Getty

Australia’s major cities have slipped in the rankings of the world’s most expensive locations for expatriates living here, the latest research has confirmed.

The annual Cost of Living Survey by financial consultancy firm, Mercer, has found that Australian cities fell by as much as 26 places in the annual list.

Sydney was the highest-ranking Australian city at 50 (29th in 2018), followed by Melbourne at 79th spot (58th in 2018).

Perth came in at 87 (61st in 2018), Canberra at 96 (77th in 2018), Brisbane at 103 (84th in 2018), and Adelaide at 109 (87th in 2018).

Mercer’s Global Mobility Leader for Pacific, Karla Costa, said the weakening Australian dollar played a large role in the Australian cities’ slide down the ladder.

“We’re seeing Australian cities fall in our Cost of Living ranking due in large part to the Australian dollar losing more than 9 per cent to the US dollar over the past year,” Ms Costa said.

“Australia’s low price movement and the rise of other main cities in the ranking are also among the main drivers.”

The survey also found that Asia has become the most expensive region for ex-pats, with eight of the world’s 10 most-expensive cities located in Asia.

Hong Kong topped the list as the world’s most expensive city for the second consecutive year, with the local housing market increasingly out of reach for many.

Other cities in the top 10 are Tokyo (2), Singapore (3), Seoul (4), Zurich (5), Shanghai (6), Ashgabat (7), Beijing (8), New York City (9), and Shenzhen (10).

Ashgabat in Turkmenistan saw the biggest jump in the rankings, jumping an astonishing 36 places from 43rd in 2018, as a result of the country’s shortage of currency and imported goods driving up prices.

Ms Costa said while the cost of living in the Pacific had not fallen, the exchange rate was a key factor when calculating expatriate packages.

“As a result, our major cities in both Australia and New Zealand are becoming increasingly attractive as locations for international businesses to send expatriates.”

The 2019 list includes 209 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 City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Mercer’s survey was conducted in March 2019, the same period during which The Economist ran a similar survey.

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