Oslo Named as the Most Expensive City in the World for Expatriates

Calculating the cost of living in Norway

A new survey has revealed that Oslo in Norway is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live.

According global human resource company ECA International, Oslo has now passed Tokyo as the priciest city in the world in which to set up home as an expat. Although Tokyo has held the top spot in their annual rankings since 2010, living expenses and tax implications now mean that Oslo has now beaten the Asian metropolis to the top spot. Furthermore, it appears that Europe as a whole has now become a much more expensive destination to call home, with seven of the top ten cities in ECA’s ranking of the most expensive destinations in the world lying in Europe, two in Africa and just one in Asia.

Discussing the results of this year’s survey, Lee Quane, Regional Director, Asia for ECA International commented: “Prices in Oslo tend to be more expensive compared to other parts of the world (because of) the cost of production and labor.

“Services include dry cleaning, shoe repair, hair dressing – items which are more labor intensive – meals eaten out at restaurants as well. We also see the impact of taxes. For example alcohol and tobacco is relatively expensive.”

According to the data published by ECA, expatriates living in Oslo can expect to pay the equivalent of $18.76 for a movie ticket, $14.10 for a beer and $3.43 for a can soda.

Elsewhere, Tokyo’s fall from the top spot for the first time since 2010, was attributed to the weakening in Japan’s currency, with the yen falling by as much as 20% since 2012. This weakening currency has provided expatriates who are paid in foreign currencies with more buying power and has ultimately entailed that living in Tokyo may not be quite as expensive as it was in previous years. However, despite the devaluation in currency, Tokyo retained its position as the most expensive city in Asia in which to live and was named the fifth most expensive city in the world for expats.

According to Quane, Asian cities have demonstrated “a lot of stability” in terms of living costs over the past year. However, this is not true across the region, with prices in Manila rocketing since the last survey: “The main reason was due to the strength of the currency. What we have seen is that the Philippines has been one of the strongest economies in Asia in the last 12 months as we’ve seen more foreign direct investment go there. Because of that, we’ve seen the currency strengthen and that pushed the Philippines up in ranking,” Quane disclosed.

ECA conducts two cost of living surveys per year. The results are compiled by comparing the price of a basket of consumer goods and services in more than 400 locations worldwide. The data excludes a number of living cost items, including accommodation rental, utilities charges, car purchases and school fees, as these are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages.