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Zurich world's fifth most costly city for expats

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Zurich is considered more pricey than Geneva and Bern. Photo: Russ Bowling
11:36 CEST+02:00
Zurich is now a more expensive place for expats to live than Geneva, according to an annual survey which ranks Switzerland's largest city as the fifth most costly place to live in the world.

As last year, the Mercer cost of living survey, published on Thursday, ranks three Swiss cities – Zurich, Geneva and Bern – among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world.

All three have jumped up the rankings since 2013, with Zurich now placing ahead of Geneva in fifth, up from eighth last year, and Geneva rising one place to sixth. Bern takes the number eight spot this year.

The survey, carried out by US consulting giant Mercer, is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

New York, which ranks 16th this year, is used as the base city, with all other cities compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The survey covers 211 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

As last year, Luanda in Angola takes the top spot, followed by N’Djamena, Chad, up two places to number two.

The African cities rank highly because of expensive imported goods and the cost of “finding living accommodations that meet the standards of expatriates,” said Ed Hannibal, Partner and Global Leader for Mercer’s Mobility practice.

Making up the top 10 are Hong Kong (3), Singapore (4), Tokyo (7), Moscow (9) and Shanghai (10).

Switzerland remains one of the most expensive locations for expatriates following the slight strengthening of the Swiss franc against the US dollar.

Other European cities that have jumped in the rankings include Paris (27), up 10 places from last year, Milan (30), up 11 spots and London (12) up 13 places.

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Swiss cities regularly figure highly in surveys measuring cost of living and wealth.

In March a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit found Zurich to be the fourth most expensive city in the world, while in January an Expatistan survey placed Lausanne in the top 10 along with Zurich and Geneva.

In June the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Zurich as having the highest disposable household income in Switzerland.

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