ECA – World Most Expensive Cities by Cost Of Living

ECA – World Most Expensive Cities by Cost Of Living

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Luanda in Angola, is apparently the most expensive city in the world

London-based human resources consultants, ECA International released their latest Cost of Living report late last year, on first look not much had changed from the year before. However, some of these cities still posed a surprise in terms of expense. Especially Luanda in Angola surprised us, since nobody would think them to be ranked the most expensive city in the world.

The Top Ten Most Expensive Cities in the World

Looking at the list of world’s most expensive cities, hereby are the top ten most expensive ones.

  1. Luanda in Angola
  2. Oslo in Norway
  3. Moscow in Russia
  4. Stavanger in Norway
  5. Copenhagen in Denmark
  6. Kinshasa in Congo Dem. Rep.
  7. Seoul in Korea Rep.
  8. Libreville in Gabon
  9. Geneva in Switzerland
  10. Central London in the United Kingdom

On second view, two cities in Norway have made the list last year, making this perhaps one of the more expensive countries overall for travellers. It certainly requires a bigger purse on a trip abroad in order to experience basic luxuries such as food and sleep.

Overview of living expense around the world’s regions


Switzerland, Denmark and Norway have always been known to top the ranks of most expensive countries in Europe for goods and services, however, recently Russian cities have also made it onto the list of the more dearer places on the continent. This is a direct result of the economic growth the nation has experienced in recent years.

One notable big riser from the previous year (2006) is Bucharest who managed to climb 40 places upwards. Bratislava in Slovakia also rose 29 places after seeing the biggest cost of living index of 17% due to the appreciation of their own currency against the major currency brands such as the US dollar.

Gone are also the days when living in Turkey was considered relatively cheap. These days, cities such as Istanbul and Ankara have become more expensive, placing Istanbul even higher in the list than Vienna, Paris and Berlin.

On the contrary, Europe’s cheapest city is called Chisinau. Chisinau is the capital of Moldavia.


Only two years ago Tokyo was considered the most expensive city for expats in Asia. Since then the city has dropped from the top ten ranking, making it once again more affordable overall. While other Japan cities also lost some of their rankings (due to the Yen’s depreciation), Seoul in Korea is considered the most expensive Asian city for expats.

Indian cost of goods have also become more dear over the last year and living in India has therefore become more expensive too. The same scenario has been found in China, where once upon a time, life was dirt cheap. Not anymore if we are to believe the ECA report.

In fact, ECA report that soaring oil and food prices made China’s Beijing and Shanghai close contenders for the traditional expensive Hong Kong and Taipei. Reasons are mainly a high cost of inflation and the rise of GST from 5-7%.

Hong Kong on the other hand enjoys some slack due to the cost of the weakening US dollar. Since the HK dollar is pegged to the US currency, life in the city has become cheaper and overseas corporations enjoy this turn of events.


The birthplace of the global credit crunch has not only lost value in their currency, but also quite a bit of ranking in the world’s cost of living index.

Manhattan alone dropped by 22 places and many other cities have shown similar behavior. This is good news for overseas investors looking to buy into the region. However, one would want to watch the turn of events before rushing head first into the unknown anyway.

Contrary to the US, Canada’s cost of living has actually increased, making cities such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa more expensive than their US counterparts.

Latin America has seen some amazing growth in the last 12 month. Especially Brazil who know tops the worlds most expensive cities list with Brasilia, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.

Those of you looking for a cheap Latin American getaway, you might want to check out Mexico’s locations. They fell by 3% and indicate some of the bigger falls in the whole survey.

Australia/New Zealand

Many Australian cities have climbed the ladder thanks to a very strong Australian dollar. Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne all became more expensive for expatriates.

The New Zealand dollar appreciation over the last 12 months also rose the cost of living in the area by some 9%. Despite this, New Zealand is still considered one of the cheaper countries in the area.


Africa is definitely showing some remarkable growth in terms of cost of living. Their number one placing of Luanda is certainly a surprise for many. But there is still hope for those who seek cheaper living quarters in Africa. Places such as Durban in South Africa and Maseru in Lesotho are offering some of the less expensive expat lives on the continent.

Last year’s winner Harare has been left off the list this year due to the phenomenal inflation of goods at 30000% and their alarming devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar. Events like these make it impossible to provide accurate listings.

Photo credits: Kaysha [via flickr]