Turkmenistan’s capital tops list of most expensive cities for expats

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The capital of Turkmenistan in Central Asia has been named as the world’s most expensive city for foreign workers.

Ashgabat, a city of about one million people, topped a 2021 cost-of-living survey by consultancy firm Mercer.

The ranking puts Ashgabat above last year’s priciest city, Hong Kong, which was placed second, followed by Beirut in Lebanon and Tokyo in Japan.

The annual report ranks 209 cities based on the cost of expenses such as housing, transport and food.

Mercer said it evaluated more than 200 goods and services for the report, which is designed to help companies and governments around the world determine how much they should pay expatriate employees.

Most of the cities in Mercer’s top 10 are business hubs where economic growth has led to a hike in the price of housing and other living costs.

But Ashgabat owes its high ranking to economic woes rather than prosperity, making it an outlier.

Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was a big riser, jumping from 45th a year earlier to 3rd in the 2021 survey.

Three Swiss cities were in the top 10, including Zurich, which dropped to fifth.

Of the priciest Chinese cities included, Shanghai climbed one spot to number six while the capital, Beijing, rose to ninth.

Singapore, an island city-state known for its flourishing financial sector, took seventh place.

In the UK, London was placed 18th, edging up by one place from number 19 last year, while Birmingham was ranked at 121, moving up by eight places from 129 in 2020.

At the bottom of the list, Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek was ranked as the least expensive city for foreign employees by the survey.


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