Swiss cities dominate list of most expensive places for expat workers to live

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Swiss cities dominate the rankings of most expensive places to live in the world for expats, taking four of the top five spots, according to a new study. 

Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern all made the top five, with only the Venezuelan capital of Caracas proving more expensive for a basket of essential goods commonly bought by those moving overseas. 

Venezuela’s economy has almost completely broken down amid hyperinflation and a volatile security situation that has seen basic supplies of food and medicine disrupted. 

“The economic situation in Venezuela has become increasingly volatile with inflation reaching an astounding 7,000 per cent in the year to March 2018 and 1,800 percent over the last six months alone,” said Steven Kilfedder, production manager for ECA International, which compiled the data.

“The cost of goods has increased exponentially as the economic and political situation has deteriorated and despite the plummeting value of the bolivar, Caracas sits at the top of our cost of living rankings.”

So distorted has the oil-rich country’s economy become under the faltering, corrupt dictatorship of President Nicolas Maduro that petrol cost just 1 US cent per gallon while many citizens go without clean water.

Angolan capital Luanda comes just behind the four Swiss cities, making it the sixth-most-expensive in the world to move to. Like Caracas, Luanda has been hit by the “resource curse” where huge supplies of oil have created a lopsided economy dependent on a single commodity, while fuelling corruption and pushing up prices as much of the population lives in poverty. 

More popular expat destinations making up the top ten most expensive are Tokyo, Seoul, Oslo and Shanghai.

Central London jumped 23 places to 109th place following a recovery in the value of the pound while Belfast remained the cheapest city in the UK, according to the ranking, which looked at 475 locations around the world.

At the bottom of the rankings, Khartoum in Sudan was listed as the least expensive city in the world.  Despite the US lifting sanctions on Sudan in late 2017, the hoped-for boost in investment has not materialised and the economy has deteriorated.

“Severe fiscal problems have led to large devaluations in the Sudanese pound and cuts in subsidies which have pushed up prices,” Mr Kilfedder said. 

Dubai came top of a separate study on the priciest cities to relocate to. The first month of living in the wealthy Middle Eastern emirate costs £3,189, on average, thanks to high visa fees and expensive accommodation, according to apartment search engine Nestpick.

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