The 10 most expensive cities for expats outside the U.S. — Hong Kong is No. 1

For those looking to leave the U.S., pursuing life as an expatriate is often an appealing option. 

That’s especially true for those living in pricey locales, such as New York City or San Francisco, where the cost of living remains persistently high. In fact, New York continues to be the most expensive city in North America, ranking sixth in the world. 

Relocating to work abroad, however, can also come with a hefty price tag, according to Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Ranking, which ranks 227 cities across five continents, comparing the cost of goods and services in each location.

The most expensive city in the world for expats: Hong Kong, which topped the list for the second consecutive year.

Here are the 10 most expensive cities for expats, outside the U.S.:

  1. Hong Kong 
  2. Singapore
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Basel, Switzerland  
  6. Bern, Switzerland 
  7. Tel Aviv, Israel 
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark 
  9. Nassau, Bahamas
  10. Shanghai

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As for the U.S., the data finds that the cost of living has increased in all American cities analyzed. In the global ranking, New York lands in sixth place, followed by Los Angeles (11th), San Francisco (14th) and Honolulu (15th).

Additionally, Detroit, Houston and Cleveland saw the greatest increases in cost of living among U.S. cities this year.  

But keep in mind that cost of living is just one factor to consider when looking to move abroad. While Hong Kong is the most expensive city on the list, that doesn’t necessarily translate to a better quality of life. In fact, it ranks 78th in that category.

On the other hand, some global cities may offer expats a lower cost of living and, perhaps, a higher quality of life. Barcelona, Spain, for example, ranks 75th for highest cost of living, but 47th for best quality of life.

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