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Mercer, the world’s largest human-resources consultancy firm, recently published their 24th annual Cost of Living Survey. Ranking 209 cities where companies are most likely to send employees on international corporate assignments, the firm compares cost of living, rental-price comps as well as currency movement against the US Dollar. Over 200 items make up the cost of living such as: transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

The Most Expensive

It’s not surprise that Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore all made the top five – these are cities (and city states) that pride themselves on their status as world class cities and playgrounds for the rich and famous.

Asia is home to the majority of the top 10, and that’s nothing new. With three of the top 10, China shows that their economy is still on an upward projection: a three bedroom house rents for $13,424 on average in Hong Kong, compared to $5,700 in New York and $6,991 in London.

The Cheapest

What IS surprising is that there are a lot of cities on this list that you wouldn’t expect and a few that I’m surprised to see are missing. SE Asia has been the default destination for expats and digital nomads sing long before Eat, Pray, Love made it fashionable to up and move to Bali.

While I don’t have hard data like Mercer, it’s not hard to see that as relocating to SE Asia has become more popular for expats, the cost of living is growing at a far faster rate in locations such as Bali, Indonesia; Goa, India and Chiang Mai, Thailand. On my last visit to Chiang Mai earlier this year, I was shocked to see the increase in costs! Economic growth in that city is close to 1000% year over year – right on the heels of the country’s capital city, Bangkok.

Dollars & Sense

If you’re like me and enjoy reading “between the lines”, you’ll notice that the cheapest cities list include new locations this year. Especially in Central America as well as Eastern Europe. I can’t help but wonder how long those will last at the bottom of the list?  Especially as more and more coworking spaces and nomads move into those regions as well…

The post The Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities for Expats was first published on Coworkaholic.