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

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Dec. 17 2013 1:07 PM

The World’s Most Expensive Cities for Expats

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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.

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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:

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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.”