Karachi and Islamabad among top five affordable cities globally

Mercer's 2024 city ranking survey highlights cost variations worldwide for international workers, potential migrants

News Desk June 21, 2024

Mercer’s Cost of Living City Ranking 2024 survey has revealed that Karachi and Islamabad are among the top five most affordable cities to live in the world. The survey, which ranked 226 cities this year, highlighted significant regional cost variations, particularly for potential migrants and international workers.

Most Affordable Cities:

  • Abuja, Nigeria (226)
  • Lagos, Nigeria (225)
  • Islamabad, Pakistan (224)
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (223)
  • Karachi, Pakistan (222)

The cost of living in these cities is significantly lower, driven largely by currency depreciation. This makes everyday expenses more manageable for foreigners, positioning these cities as attractive destinations for those looking to minimise living costs.

Most Expensive Cities:

  • Hong Kong (1)
  • Singapore (2)
  • Zurich, Switzerland (3)

While Karachi and Islamabad offer affordability, the most expensive cities remain Hong Kong, Singapore, and Zurich, maintaining their positions from last year. High living costs in these cities are due to expensive housing markets, high transportation costs, and the overall high cost of goods and services.

Several key economic factors have influenced these rankings. Inflation, exchange-rate fluctuations, and geopolitical volatility significantly impact the cost of living in major cities.

Regional Overview

Asia: After Hong Kong and Singapore, the most expensive cities in Asia include Shanghai (23), Beijing (25), and Seoul (32).

Europe: Western Europe features prominently among the most expensive cities, with Switzerland home to four of the top ten. London has also entered the top ten, ranked 8th. Other expensive European cities include Copenhagen (11), Vienna (24), Paris (29), and Amsterdam (30).

Middle East: Dubai has become the most expensive city in the Middle East, ranking 15th globally. It is followed by Tel Aviv (16), Abu Dhabi (43), Riyadh (90), and Jeddah (97).

North America: New York City remains the priciest city in North America, ranked 7th globally. Nassau, Bahamas (9), Los Angeles (10), Honolulu (12), and San Francisco (13) also feature in the top ranks.

Mercer’s annual ranking provides essential insights for global mobility operations and international workers. The comprehensive ranking serves as a valuable guide, helping people to navigate the complex landscape of living expenses worldwide.


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