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Expat Cost of Living: How affordable are Dubai, Abu Dhabi?
Expat Cost of Living: How affordable are Dubai, Abu Dhabi?

Cost of living increases, but UAE cities cheaper than Hong Kong, Zurich and Singapore

A new global report shows annual increase in cost of living over the last year rose steeply in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

According to Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living Survey, Dubai is the 23rd most expensive city in the world in 2015 (from a rank of 67 last year).

Only Buenos Aires has seen a steeper rise in rankings – the Argentinian capital rose 67 slots to land at #19, entering the Top 20 most expensive cities for the first time this year.

UAE capital Abu Dhabi, too, became more expensive since last year – moving from #68 in 2014 to #33 in 2015.

Nevertheless, both UAE cities remain considerably cheaper than other expat hotspots such as Hong Kong, Zurich, Singapore, Geneva, Tokyo, London and New York, among several others.

A strong dollar and increasing demand for housing have been cited as primary reasons for increased cost of living in the two UAE cities.

“Many currencies in the Middle East are pegged to the US dollar, which pushed the cities up in the ranking.

"Steep increase for expatriate rental accommodations particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai also contributed to the increase of the cities in the ranking,” states the survey.

The Mercer survey ranks 207 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Within the Middle East, the only other city ranked among the Top 50 most expensive cities in the world is Beirut, which is ranked #44.

Amman in Jordan is ranked #54, followed by Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh (#71), Bahrain’s Manama (#91), Oman’s Muscat and Kuwait’s Kuwait City (both #117), Egypt’s Cairo (#120).

Jeddah (#151) continues to be the least expensive city in the region despite rising 24 places in ranking.

The survey shows Hong Kong (#2), Zurich (#3), Singapore (#4), and Geneva (#5) top the list of most expensive cities for expatriates.

The costliest city for the third consecutive year is Luanda (#1), the capital of Angola.

Despite being recognised as a relatively inexpensive city, the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in this country are available at a steep price, the survey notes.

Other cities appearing on the Top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates are Shanghai (#6), Beijing (#7), and Seoul (#8) in Asia; Bern (#9); and N’Djamena (#10).

The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer’s survey, are Bishkek (#207), Windhoek (#206), and Karachi (#205).

Mercer's survey uses New York as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.



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