By Ahmad Jabr
KUWAIT: Kuwait City is the cheapest for expatriate employees out of eight Gulf cities ranked in Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking 2023. Kuwait City maintained its same ranking of 131 out of 227 cities on the list. Two of the most expensive cities in the Middle East are in the United Arab Emirates, namely Dubai (18) and Abu Dhabi (43), both of which have seen fairly significant increases in their rankings since last year.
Saudi cities such as Riyadh (85) and Jeddah (101) have also jumped up the global list, by 18 and 10 spots respectively. Manama (98) Doha (126) and Muscat (130) round up the GCC cities on the list. Hong Kong once again tops the ranking, followed by Singapore, which jumped up six positions since last year, pushing Zurich to the third spot.
The least expensive locations in the ranking include Havana, which dropped 83 spots, due in part to strong currency devaluations mid last-year, and two cities in Pakistan — Karachi and Islamabad. Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Hong Kong and Singapore are the only two Asian cities out of 10 of the most expensive cities for international assignees to live in in 2023, compared to four last year. The global top ten includes five European cities and four of those are in Switzerland, with the fifth being Copenhagen. Other most expensive cities in the region include London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Prague (up 27 spots in the global ranking since last year) and Helsinki.
New York City (number six in the global ranking) continues to be the most expensive city in North America, followed by Los Angeles (11) and San Francisco (14). All US cities in the ranking have gone up since last year, with the largest changes being for Detroit (+27 positions), Houston and Cleveland (both +24 positions). Mercer says that the key factors that have shaped the world’s economy in 2022 will continue to exert an influence into 2023.
“More than a year after the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the emergence of more contagious COVID-19 variants, many economies are still absorbing the shocks produced by these events,” it noted. High inflation and market fluctuations impact the cost of living across the world, “impacting our purchasing power and standard of living,” it added.