Tunisia’s Capital Named Least Expensive City for Expats to live in 2019 Global Rankings

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Tunisia’s capital of Tunis has been named the least expensive city for expatriates to live in based on a new list of 2019 international rankings.

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, has released the results of its 2019 Cost of Living survey, ranking cities around the world.

The figures for Mercer’s cost of living and rental accommodation cost comparisons are derived from a survey conducted in March 2019. Exchange rates from that time and Mercer’s international basket of goods and services from its Cost of Living Survey have been used as base measurements.

Governments and major companies use data from the survey to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad; rental accommodation costs data is used to assess local expatriate housing allowances. The choice of cities surveyed is based on demand for data.

The survey ranked 208 cities from across the world.

Hong Kong (in Hong Kong), Tokyo (in Japan), Singapore (in Singapore), Seoul (in South Korea) and Zurich (in Switzerland) made the top five list of most expensive cities for expats.

Meanwhile, Tunis (in Tunisia), Tashkent (in Uzbekistan), Karachi (in Pakistan), Bishkek (in Kyrgyzstan) and Banjul (in Gambia) made the least expensive cities list in that order.

Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey finds that eight out of the top ten of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates are Asian cities, resulting from high costs for expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market.

Tokyo (2nd), Singapore (3rd) and Seoul (4th) top the list, while the costliest city in the world for the second consecutive year is Hong Kong (1st). Other cities appearing in the top ten are Zurich (5th), Shanghai (6th), Ashgabat (7th), Beijing (8th), New York City (9th), and Shenzhen (10th). The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates are Tunis (209th), Tashkent (208th), and Karachi (207th).

N’Djamena, Chad takes the lead as the highest-ranking city in Africa. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (22nd) is in second place, rising fifteen places. Libreville, Gabon (24th) is the next African city on the list, followed by Lagos, Nigeria (25th), which moved up seventeen places. And despite dropping about 20 places, Luanda, Angola (26th) still remains in fifth place.

“Each African country has its own unique economy and this is why multinationals need not approach their expatriate packages for Africa with one single strategy. Let’s look at it this way, while a city like N’Djamena in Chad has been listed as the 11th most expensive city in the world, whereas Mali comes in at the 124th position in terms of cost of living,” said Yolanda Sedlmaier, Principal Leader – Africa Mobility at Mercer.

Merce stated that in a rapidly changing world, mobility programs have become a core component of multinational organizations’ global talent strategy. Organizations realize that to thrive they must embrace change, adapt to new technologies, and build emerging skills to attract, motivate, and enhance talent.


“In a skill-focused economy driven by digital disruption and the need for a globally connected workforce, deploying expatriate employees is an increasingly important aspect of a competitive business strategy for global companies,” said Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business.

“There are numerous personal and organizational advantages for sending employees overseas, including career development, global experience, new skillsets, and re-allocation of resources. By offering fair and competitive compensation packages, organizations can facilitate moves that drive business results,” she continued.

Mercer’s 25th annual Cost of Living Survey found that a number of factors, including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices, contribute to the overall cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

Mercer’s widely recognized survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.



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