Benchmark for expats

To compile the list for 2015, Mercer looked at the costs of accommodation, transport, food, clothes, household supplies and entertainment in 207 cities around the globe. New York City is used as the base city for the index, and currency movements are measured against the dollar. The annual list is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.

For the third year in a row, the Angolan capital Luanda is the world’s most expensive city for expats because of the high costs of imported goods. The Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek is named the least expensive city on the list. With five cities in the top 10, Asia dominates the list of most expensive cities in the world.

Exchange rates

The fact that the euro has depreciated to the dollar has made many European cities like Amsterdam more attractive from a cost perspective. Many other European cities that are not in the Eurozone however, still rank high on Mercer’s list. London for example is ranked 12th most expensive city in the world to live for expats, and Copenhagen ranks 29th. Switzerland has three cities in the top ten (Zurich 3rd, Geneva 5th and Bern 9th), illustrating the high costs of living expats find here.

Quality of life 

Naturally, Amsterdam has more to offer than just a low cost of living. It is also regarded as one of the most pleasant cities to live in, combining the advantages of being a cosmopolitan capital with a compact, easy-to-navigate size. With its blend of historical beauty, upbeat new districts, cultural attractions and first-class modern business facilities, it is no surprise that once they’ve come here for work, many expats find it hard to leave.