International Cost of Living Rankings Show The Best Cities in the World to Find a Job

Share Article international cost of living ranking points to four of the world’s best opportunities for expat mobility. The rankings released on 1 April 2014 shows Luanda as the most expensive, with Caracas second.

The new international cost of living rankings released by reveal that costs have risen sharply in many of the most popular destinations for expat workers, but there are still low cost cities with great opportunities.

Here are 4 of the most overlooked cities where the cost of living is relatively low.

1.    Dalian - The Back Door to China

China’s two largest cities have been steadily climbing up the global cost of living rankings, with Shanghai breaking into the top twenty in 17th position, according to 2014 Q1 report. Beijing is not far behind, in 28th spot. Rising housing costs have made the biggest jump while everything from transportation to groceries has also been climbing.

Shanghai, a teaming metropolis of 24 million people, has long been a favorite of expats. Salary and benefit packages were generous for skilled foreign workers, but now increasing pressure on companies to control costs and a rapidly expanding supply of qualified and experienced workers from Southeast Asia is making it more difficult to land the types of assignments that were once available. Companies are now less likely to offer full relocation and expat benefits and the increasing cost of living is making Shanghai and Beijing less attractive.

Dalian is another city that has a long history of foreign workers, but in terms of cost of living, Dalian ranks 227th. Compared to Shanghai, a luxury 3-bedroom suburban apartment will cost roughly half, $1271 USD per month in Dalian compared to $2371 in Shanghai. Getting around is cheaper too with taxi fares around 20% less.

In 2006 China Daily News ranked Dalian as China’s most livable city. For western workers, companies like Dell and Intel both have manufacturing and administrative offices here.

2.    Budapest - The Unsung European Capital

While many European capital cities like Stockholm, Paris and Oslo were near the top of the rankings, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a downright bargain. Well known as a cheap travel destination for many Europeans, Budapest placed 536th out of the over 700 cities ranked by

A quick comparison of the drink menu at a pub in Budapest would have you paying the equivalent of 89 U.S. pennies for a half liter bottle of domestic beer. A local brew in Geneva, the stately center of international diplomacy, would run you $2.54, nearly three times more. A few nights in a nice four star hotel might be a great introduction to your new home. In Budapest a four star hotel averages $204 USD a night while in Geneva, expect to pay around $540.

The purchasing power parity (PPP) of the average Budapest wage earner is 147% of the average for the European Union as a whole. With nearly 400,000 companies operating in the city there are excellent opportunities in virtually every industry.

3.    Cape Town - From Supply Stop to Global Center

This former colonial supply stop for ships of the Dutch East India Company has become a major international center. As the home of the South African Parliament, there is a major government presence in the city and it also ranks as the manufacturing and business center for the southern part of the country. Almost every major international company has their manufacturing and operations headquartered here, including Johnson & Johnson, Levis Strauss and Adidas.

Despite its position as a global city, Cape Town ranks 550th on the global cost of living. Comparing costs to another former colonial outpost, Sydney, Australia, it’s not hard to see why Cape Town is attracting attention among foreign workers. A Big Mac, costing the equivalent of $4.18 USD in Cape Town, will set you back $8.46 in Sydney. If paying double for a hamburger makes you think twice, compare the cost of private schooling. Yearly tuition at an international school in Cape Town averages $8,320 while you can expect to pay more than $20,000 in Sydney.

Cape Town is also actively promoting itself as a destination for foreign workers in key professions where it sees a skills gap. While unemployment in rural areas of South Africa is as high as 70% due to a large number of unskilled workers; teachers, engineers, medical and IT workers are in high demand and are eligible for special work permits through the S.A. Department of Home Affairs.

4.    Calgary - Canadian Hub for Oil and Gas

Calgary is the booming center for Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, and it’s fastest growing economy. As the corporate headquarters for virtually every company involved in developing the Alberta tar sands, as well as renewed production from what is known in the industry as non-traditional drilling, Calgary is a bastion of stability in the global world of big oil.

As the 87th most expensive city on’s latest report, Calgary is not cheap. When you consider however that the top 3 most expensive cities in the World are centers for oil and gas, Calgary becomes an attractive option. Canadian news agency, the Globe and Mail has reported that workers have been moving to Calgary “en mass” from the troubled oil fields of Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas ranks #2 and Luanda, Angola ranks #1 among the World’s most expensive cities.

A mid-priced dinner out for two in Calgary costs on average $58, while in Luanda the price will be closer to $85. A comparable rental car in Luanda will run you about 25% more than Calgary before you even factor in the cost of hiring a driver, which is recommended in Luanda. Another thing you’ll want in Luanda is an upgrade, to a heavy duty 4-wheel drive SUV with the extra damage insurance because paved roads are virtually non-existent outside the capital city.

Breaking In To the Expat Lifestyle

In a global economy, international experience is a huge boost to personal marketability. As markets and businesses spill across borders and around the globe, the demand for skilled workers with international business experience and cultural sensitivity is growing. For experienced expat workers in many key positions there is also the prospect of an exceptionally high standard of living.

The Top Ten Cost of Living City Rankings are:
1    Angola, Luanda
2    Venezuela, Caracas
3    Norway, Oslo
4    Singapore, Singapore
5    China, Hong Kong
6    Switzerland, Zurich
7    Switzerland, Geneva
8    Monaco, Monaco
9    Japan, Tokyo
10    Australia, Sydney

For the full listing:

Company Info:'s® mission is to organize the world's cost of living indices, exchange rates and relative hardship ratings to make the data simple, accessible, and useful to all.

If you are considering an overseas assignment you can access detailed cost of living ranking information on any one of 780 different locations through Their online calculators also help you estimate the salary and benefits you will need to maintain the same purchasing power and standard of living on an overseas assignment.

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