The World's Most Expensive City for Expats Will Surprise You

How It Works
Dec. 17 2013 1:07 PM

The World’s Most Expensive Cities for Expats

Shoppers loaded with purchases leave a Daka store in Caracas on Nov. 9, 2013. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the "occupation" by the government of a chain of appliances stores accused of raising the prices of their items.

Photo by Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

The consulting firm ECA is out with its annual list of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriate staff, and the places at the top are an eclectic group.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The company looks at the cost of an “international lifestyle” including meals, clothing, groceries, and basic expenses, but not housing, which is presumably covered by your multinational employer.


This year’s winner, for the first time, is Caracas, Venezuela, which edged out the even more unlikely-seeming Luanda, Angola. The report states:

Prices for items in ECA's shopping basket [in Caracas] have gone up by over 60% on average since last year. However, this may be short-lived, as pressure is building on the currency, which could well be devalued in the near future.

Global Post rounds up some eye-popping Venezuelan prices including $100 for a box of cereal and $21 for a cheese pastry and a brownie. The country's inflation rate is nearing a two-decade high of 54 percent.

Tokyo is still the most expensive location in Asia, but Beijing is closing fast.

Here’s the top 25:


As you can see, the list features both highly developed places where the cost of living is high for everyone, and extremely poor places, where international businesspeople will find it expensive to live in the manner to which they are accustomed.

From the top five at least, it seems like there’s a correlation between oil and cost of living for foreigners.

Norway, Venezuela, and Switzerland are also currently atop the Economist’s famous “Big Mac Index.”



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.