London cheaper option for expats in global cost of living rankings

Credit card payment-2Living in London as an expat has become a more attractive choice on the basis of the cost of living in 375 global cities.

London has moved down from 12th to be 17th most expensive city to live and work as an expatriate in the annual rankings by HR and consulting company Mercer.  But it is still the most expensive city in Europe with the exception of those in Switzerland – Zurich, Geneva and Bern are higher up the cost league.

Other UK cities have also become comparatively cheaper.  Aberdeen has move down to 85 from 82 last year and Birmingham is 96th in 2016 compared to 80th in 2015.  Mercer say that the strength of the pound against the dollar in the past 12 months has been a factor as dollars are used as the base currency for calculations.

The most expensive city in the world for an expat is Hong Kong, according to Mercer research. Last year’s most expensive city, Luanda, drops to second place.  Five of the top ten are Asian cities, three of them in China.

Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2016 – 10 most expensive
City Country Continent
1 Hong Kong China Asia
2 Luanda Angola Africa
3 Zurich Switzerland Europe
4 Singapore Singapore Asia
5 Tokyo Japan Asia
6 Kinshasa Dem Republic of Congo Africa
7 Shanghai China Asia
8 Geneva Switzerland Europe
9 N’Djamena Chad Africa
10 Beijing China Asia

In Europe, apart from the Swiss cities and London, the only cities in the top 50 globally are  Copenhagen, Paris and Dublin.

Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2016 – Europe’s most expensive
City Country
Zurich Switzerland
Geneva Switzerland
Bern Switzerland
London UK
Copenhagen Denmark
Paris France
Milan Italy
Vienna Austria
Rome Italy
Oslo Norway

The survey looks at the cost of 200 items in each city including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.  The cost of housing helped push Hong Kong to the top of the rankings, but London comes out as expensive for a number of everyday purchases.

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See also

London expensive? Not compared to being an expat in Luanda

How London compares for the cost of public transport

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Financial sector’s post election confidence helps city pip NY to top ranking

city aerial 2London has notched up another win in the see saw contest with New York to be the world’s leading financial centre. The latest edition of the Global Financial Centres Index, a research project that reports twice a year, places the capital just ahead of its American rival.

But it’s a close contest, as it has been since the index, created by financial research organisation Long Finance, was first published in March 2007. London comes out on top as greater confidence returns following uncertainties created by the Scotland independence referendum and the general election.

The index is based on a survey questionnaire of 3,200 financial sector professionals plus data from the UN, World Bank and the World Economic Forum. It is scored out of 1,000 and London won by just 8 points.

The assessment is split into 5 categories: business environment, financial sector development, infrastructure, human capital, and reputational and general factors. London came top in each category after losing to New York in 3 of them last time.

After London and New York the top 5 is completed by Asian cities – Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, with Seoul in 6th place. Zurich is the only other European financial centres in the top 10, which is completed by North American cities.

Global Finance Centres Index

Geneva, Frankfurt and Luxembourg make the top 20 but Paris only manages 37th place. Sydney ranks at 15 with Dubai a place below.

In building the index, assessments are only included from people from outside each centre to avoid any home preference. Respondents from North American and the Middle East are most positive about London, while those from Latin America, Asia/Pacific and Western Europe view it less favourably.

Analysis of the data split into industry sectors shows London comes top with respondents in investment management, banking, government and regulation, and professional services. It is only beaten by New York for those in the insurance sector.

The data also reveals that bigger companies favour New York, just, but those with fewer than 2000 employees rate London more highly.

The longer-term trends in the index show that the dominance of Western Europe and North America is being eroded as Asia/Pacific grows, particularly through the rise of China.

Stability has been key to the success of leading financial centres and the researchers point out that the strongest ones are successful, cosmopolitan cities in their own right.

See also

Economic clout helps London to another global cities crown

London flies flag for West as East leads global growth ranking

NY beats London in economic power

Mapping Londoners: Born in Hong Kong

Hong Kong was a favoured destination for people from London seeking to work overseas, particularly before it was handed back to China in 1997. 11,000 still live there according to Hong Kong Government data but 26,000 people born in Hong Kong have made their home in London.

They are fewer than the 39,000 Chinese but more evenly dispersed around the city. Data from the last census shows that the largest community is in the north London borough of Barnet.

born in HK

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More population maps

London “most influential” global city

city towersLondon is the most influential city in the world thanks to its pre-eminence as a global financial capital and its location, according to business publisher Forbes.

While the United Kingdom is described as a “second-rate power” the capital leads the list for global influence judged by 8 criteria.  Researchers ranked cities according to the amount of foreign direct investment they have attracted, the concentration of corporate headquarters, number of business niches they dominate,  ease of air travel to other global cities, strength of services like legal and accountancy, financial services, technology and media power, and racial diversity.

The top five cities were:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Singapore
  5. Tokyo

Location plays an important role in London’s ranking. Forbes says that being outside the US and the eurozone keeps it away from, what it called, “unfriendly regulators”. It has the second best air connections in the world, beaten only by Dubai. And it has a time-zone advantage over American in doing business with Asia.

History and tradition play a part too. Forbes says that London is the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define capitalism.  As the home of the English language it boasts a powerful position in media and advertising.  London has also become Europe’s leading tech start up city

New York came second in the Forbes list though in separate rankings for economic power and as a smart city, both reported by Urbs, it outperformed London.  The top two were some way ahead of third place Paris in all criteria. Singapore was the leading Asian city outperforming the mega cities of China and Japan. Dubai is the only city in the Middle East to make the top 10, thanks, says Forbes, to its globalisation strategy and a population diversity that has made it the crossroads of the world.

The size of the cities was of less importance. Of the top 10 on the list only 3, New York, Tokyo and Beijing, are ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most populous cities.  The cities of the so-called BRIC nations are becoming more important and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are all in the top 20. Poor infrastructure means it will be some time before Brazil and India break into the top flight of these rankings, says Forbes.

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