The list of most expensive cities for expats is out — but where is Amsterdam?

Close your eyes and consider this question: on a global list of 200 cities, how expensive is Amsterdam for expats to live? 

If your answer was anywhere in the top 10, top 20, or even top 50 — you were wrong. If you guessed number 64 however, you’re right (and should have your own psychic TV show).

The 2020 Cost of Living Ranking by Mercer has seen Amsterdam drop even further down the list of the most expensive cities for expats to live in. Wait a minute — “even further?” Indeed, our expat readers! Amsterdam has been on a steady decline for years. Last year the Dutch capital came in at number 58, but dropped six places in 12 months.

What happened, Amsterdam?

So have prices dropped in Amsterdam? Is now finally the time to purchase that dream canal house? Can we finally expect to pay less for the train?

Sadly no. In reality, other cities have just become far more expensive — Amsterdam’s prices were just slower to increase. In addition, the euro got weaker against the US dollar, which is good news if you get a US salary in the Netherlands.

What countries are the most expensive?

The ranking counts the costs of housing rental, transport, food, entertainment, and security in over 200 cities.

Hong Kong finished in first place for the third year in a row. However, Tokyo had to settle for third place after Ashgabat, Turkmenistan jumped from seventh place. Some of the other places you should definitely avoid moving to are the Swiss cities of Zurch (4), Bern (8), and Geneva (9). New York came in at number six.

But Amsterdam isn’t alone in its decline. Our neighbours Belgium and Germany all dropped, and Paris and Milan fell from 50th and 47th respectively. If you’re looking for a bargain, catch a plane to Tunis, Tunisia — it came in cheapest for the second year in a row.

Top 10 most expensive cities for expats 2020:

1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR)
2. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
3. Tokyo, Japan
4. Zurich, Switzerland
5. Singapore, Singapore
6. New York City, United States
7. Shanghai, China
8. Bern, Switzerland
9. Geneva, Switzerland
10. Beijing, China

Top 10 cheapest cities for expats 2020:

199. Gaborone, Botswana
200. Islamabad, Pakistan
201. Lusaka, Zambia
202. Skopje, North Macedonia
203. Tbilisi, Georgia
204. Banjul, Gambia
205. Karachi, Pakistan
206. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
207. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
208. Windhoek, Namibia
209. Tunis, Tunisia

Did Amsterdam’s ranking surprise you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: redcharlie/Unsplash

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


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