HONG Kong is once again ranked as the world’s most expensive city for expats. The financial center maintains the status of the most expensive city in the ECA International 2020 cost of living report, even as the coronavirus pandemic and political tensions weigh on rents in the city.

Even Tokyo, New York and Geneva have also kept their overall ranking in the top four unchanged from 2019 respectively. Zurich and London have both crept up into the top 10 this year as rebounding euros and pounds pushed up the cost of living of professional workers abroad. .

Meanwhile Tel Aviv, Israel, Seoul, South Korea, San Francisco and Yokohama, Japan all recorded stationary living costs or experienced a decline throughout the year.

“[Cost of living] Hong Kong is expensive in many areas we consider to be part of our research, but the very high cost of housing pushes it to the number one position,” said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.

This is despite some property prices falling in the past year, in response to falling demand due to the pandemic and ongoing political uncertainty. ECA International’s annual cost of living report compares the costs of daily necessities, including food, transportation, and utilities, in 208 cities in 121 countries from September 2019 to September 2020.

This year’s roster shift was due in large part to currency fluctuations in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, which affected the purchasing power of professionals working abroad. A stronger euro, pound and Australian dollar boosted the cost of living in their respective markets. With the euro and pound rebounding this year, the cost of living has increased for many overseas workers.

“These factors have also driven many major European cities up the rankings, with London now being the 6th most expensive location in the world, Paris moving up ten places to 29th place, and Vienna and Munich entering the top 50 of the world,” said Quane.

Meanwhile, the decline in Asian currencies, including the Thai baht, Vietnamese dong and Indian rupee, caused the cost of living in each country’s major cities to drop dramatically for expats. Mumbai, India, alone has dropped 34 spots to 94th place globally.

“Mumbai, as India’s most expensive city, has dropped its ranking to bottom in Asia due to the combination of a weak rupee and cheaper rents in the city’s expat accommodation rental market,” said Quane.

Elsewhere, oil-dependent economies such as Brazil, Russia and Venezuela, have been hit by falling oil prices and local currencies, dragging down the cost of living of overseas workers.

Here are the 10 most expensive cities for expats globally; (1). Hong Kong, (2). Tokyo, Japan, (3). New York, USA, (4). Geneva, Switzerland, (5). Zurich, Switzerland, (6). London, England, (7). Tel Aviv, Israel, (8). Seoul, South Korea, (9). San Francisco, USA, (10.). Yokohama, Japan. [ special]