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Expat rent prices – worldwide city ranking 2010

EuroCost International specializes in cost of living services for expatriates in over 250 locations worldwide.

Although expat housing conditions can vary a lot from one country to another, EuroCost International publishes a yearly worldwide ranking based on a specific type of housing.
This time, we have considered 2- and 3-bedroom flats (average prices converted in euros, reference date December 2009).


Marked changes appear in the 2010 worldwide ranking of expat rents.
There are two main reasons for this:

  • - The housing crisis has differently affected the various locations worldwide. In many countries, rents have decreased in 2009, which has been quite an exception for the last few years. Some markets have however better resisted the crisis and in some countries, expat rent prices have remained stable or have even increased !
  • -Exchange rates have highly fluctuated in 2009. Therefore, rent price evolution might have been very different in euros and in local currency.

This is why cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Dubai are no longer in the top 20. In Dubai, spectacular decreases have been registered for expat rents in 2009.

On the other hand cities like Beirut, Sydney or Rio have risen up the ranking and are now among the 20 most expensive places in the world.

  COUNTRY CITY (2009)
1 JAPAN Tokyo (1)
2 UNITED KINGDOM London (3)
3 CHINA Hong Kong (2)
4 RUSSIA Moscow (4)
5 ANGOLA Luanda (6)
6 INDIA Mumbai (5)
7 UNITED STATES New York (7)
8 JAPAN Osaka (8)
9 SINGAPORE Singapore (9)
10 LEBANON Beyrut (28)
11 FRANCE Paris (13)
12 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Abu Dhabi (11)
13 THE NETHERLANDS Amsterdam (16)
14 AUSTRALIA Sydney (41)
15 SWITZERLAND Geneva (19)
16 UNITED STATES San Francisco (14)
17 UKRAINE Kiev (10)
18 CONGO D.R. Kinshasa (27)
19 BRAZIL Rio (71)
20 SOUTH KOREA Seoul (36)

A rather stable top 9

Even if prices have fluctuated differently in the 9 top cities, the rankings are quite similar to last year’s.

Tokyo has maintained its top position of the ranking that it had recovered last year with the strengthening of the yen.

London (2nd) and Hong Kong (3rd) have switched their 2009 places. They remain very expensive for expats although prices have well decreased in both of them.

Moscow (4th) has maintained its previous ranking. Luanda (5th), most expensive African city, has gone one up. Although sales prices have decreased, rent prices have continued to increase for expats!

Mumbai (6th) is down one place as a result of falling prices, particularly in early 2009. Some expat areas have however better resisted the crisis than others, thus limiting the global decrease.

New York (7th), Osaka (8th) and Singapore (9th) have maintained their 2009 positions, but the gap between New York and Osaka has reduced due to the decrease in New York (Manhattan) prices.


Notable evolutions

Beirut (10th) appears for the first time in the top 20, pushed up by the real estate speculation that has generated a strong increase of high quality housing.

Beirut is now the most expensive city in the Middle East, just before Abu Dhabi where expat rents have well decreased in 2009.
Price decrease has been even more spectacular in Dubai where decreases up to 30-50% have been registered according to the type of housing. Dubai has fallen down in the ranking to 31st while it was 12th last year.

Paris, 3rd most expensive city in Europe, ranks in 11th position. It has not suffered from the housing crisis and therefore rose up two places.
Paris is not the only European city to rise up the ranking: Amsterdam has risen up from 15th to 13th, and Geneva from 18th to 15th.

Kiev has seriously suffered from the international crisis and has fallen from 10th to 17th position this year.

Although it has suffered from the housing crisis, San Francisco remains in the top 20, falling from 14th to 16th position. It still remains the second US rental market after New York.


Emergence of new cities

Four new cities have joined or rejoined the top 20 most expensive locations for expatriates: Sydney, Kinshasa, Rio and Seoul.

Sydney is now the 14th most expensive place to rent for expatriates, up from 41st in 2009.
This major jump is mainly due to the appreciation (27%) of the Australian dollar against the euro between December 08 and December 09.

Kinshasa is the second African city of the ranking. It rises up to 18th from 27th in 2009.Although rent prices for expats have been increasing for years, it still remains far behind Luanda.

Rio has made a quantum leap forward: rising prices and a strengthened real have pushed Rio from 71st last year to 19th this year. With a 33% revaluation of the real against the euro, Rio is now South America’s most expensive city.

Seoul ranks in 20th position. Up to 2007, Seoul was one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it had sunk in the ranking due to a continuous depreciation of the won but between December 08 and December 09, it has revaluated by 14% against the euro.


Specific expat surveys

EuroCost International data reflects the local rental market for expats and therefore differs from the local rental market in terms of price level as well as evolution.

Areas selected for our surveys are the residential areas frequented by expats.

We collect prices for different types of housing, from studios to large detached houses, but these can be adapted to the specificity of each country. In a country where all expats live in houses, our survey will only report house prices.

All dwellings considered range from good to very good quality to ensure that expats benefit from comfortable living conditions.

Prices are collected in the currency used for the payment of the rent (very often USD’s or in euros rather than in local currency).

Housing is a crucial element for an expatriation; therefore many companies seriously consider their expats’ living conditions.
Our rent surveys are usually provided separately from the cost of living index to fully meet the needs of our customers, but rent prices can be included in our indices.