Written by Meghan Zuvelek,
Last Modified: 14th September 2017

Have an expat experience of a lifetime in these world-class cities, but be warned, the experience comes with a price tag.

The world’s most desirable cities draw thousands of expatriates each year – the brightest and best from all over the world seeking fun and fortune overseas. But it’s not for the cheap cost of living! The cities listed below are renowned for being expensive, yet offer an overall package that is hard to resist for world travellers seeking an expatriate lifestyle across the globe. For those looking for international career opportunities, these bustling economic hubs offer immense prospects. Here are five of the most expensive cities in the world that also happen to be expat hubs.

Transportation and groceries are some of the biggest costs in Singapore with the cost of owning a car more expensive in Singapore than anywhere else in the world.

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has the most expensive housing market in the world with low interest rates and a booming Chinse economy driving up prices to astronomical levels. A cup of coffee in Hong Kong will set you back £5, with everything from transportation, consumer goods and food attracting a premium price tag. In exchange for the high cost of living expats get to live in the world’s most exciting trade hub, enjoy low taxes and a dynamic and cosmopolitan environment. The cost to rent a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Hong Kong is about £4,000 per month, while the cost to buy a similar place is £600,000.

2. Tokyo, Japan

Another Asian capital, Tokyo is consistently on the list as one of the most expensive places to live for expats. Accommodation is the largest expense to deal with and unless your employer has offered a package that includes housing, expect to fork out a chunk of your budget on rent or mortgage. An unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo is around £1,800 a month. Groceries are also a big expense in Tokyo and can cost twice as much compared to other expat hubs such as Dubai. Though expensive, the lifestyle in Japan seems to be worth it with over two million expats calling Tokyo home, enjoying the culture-rich, eco-friendly and safe Asian city.


Expensive, but admit it, it looks nice


3. Zurich, Switzerland

The costliest city in Europe, and the fourth most expensive in the world, is Zurich Switzerland. This international banking and finance centre attracts affluent expats from around the globe. Zurich is notably expensive for accommodation, transportation, food and education while things such as license fees and insurance premiums are also expensive. Those working in Zurich will help neutralize the high cost of living with high salaries and strong purchasing power. Renting is more common than buying property with the average two-bedroom unfurnished apartment costing £3,500 a month.

4. Singapore

Transportation and groceries are some of the biggest costs in Singapore with the cost of owning a car more expensive in Singapore than anywhere else in the world. Clothing and consumer goods are also pricey with housing very expensive too. Two-bedroom condos typically start around £2,500 a month and can go as much as £5,600 in upscale areas like Keppel Bay. Jobs in Singapore pay well, and expats on salary packages will often have housing included. By taking public transportation, eating at cheaper establishments and living outside of upscale areas, life in Singapore can be much more affordable.

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5. New York

Though cheaper than Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, New York is the most expensive city in the United States with the costs in some neighbourhoods like Manhattan extremely high. The average two-bedroom flat in New York is about £4,000 a month and to buy the same place costs about £800,000. Dining out in the Big Apple can also eat away a large chunk of funds with a 15 to 20% tip expected in restaurants and bars. With some of the world’s best entertainment, dining and nightlife, many expats would agree that the price to live in the city that never sleeps is well worth it.

With excellent career opportunities, high salaries and plenty of benefits, the experience of living and working abroad can be hugely rewarding.

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