The three biggest Swiss cities were the only western European metropolises to feature in the top 10.
The survey of 214 cities was led by Luanda, Moscow, Tokyo, N’Djamena (Chad), Singapore and Hong Kong. Sydney came in tenth in the rankings issued on Thursday.
“Switzerland remains one of the costliest destinations for expatriates despite stable or slightly falling housing prices and a strong Swiss franc,” the Tribune de Genève newspaper quoted senior Mercer analyst Nathalie Constantin-Métral as saying.
The Mercer study looks at over 200 criteria when coming up with its rankings.
While the three Swiss cities were similar for most criteria, Geneva charged most for a cup of coffee – $6.52 on average, as opposed to $5.98 in Zurich and $4.68 in Bern.
Another factor that made Switzerland so expensive was the price of a cinema ticket – $18.48 on average in Geneva, $20.66 in Zurich and $18.95 in Bern.
Zurich was in fact the most expensive city in the world for cinema-goers.
But it was the cost of accommodation that put Geneva above Zurich and Bern, the researchers found.
On the other hand, milk was found to be cheap in Switzerland in international comparison. A litre of pasteurized milk cost $1.74, a long way short of the $7.59 charged in Moscow.