Is it London, playground of the world’s super-rich, or an Asian financial centre such as Hong Kong or Singapore?
Where is the world’s most expensive city? London, where garages can sell for half a million pounds? Or Paris, where hotels, restaurants and boutiques cater to almost 50 million tourists a year in the world’s most visited city?
The answer, according to Mercer’s annual Cost of Living survey, might not be what you would expect: the consultancy puts Luanda, in Angola, in first place in its 2015 survey of how expensive 200 world cities are for expatriate employees. A pair of jeans apparently costs in excess of $240, and a basic fast-food meal will set you back $18.95 – in a sub-Saharan country where millions get by on less than $2 a day, and which the World Bank rates as the seventh worst in the world for income equality.
Why? The answer lies in the oil industry, which accounts for more than half the country’s GDP. Luanda draws in oil industry workers from around the world, all paying a premium for imported goods and security, and takes the top spot for the third consecutive year. “Despite being recognised as a relatively inexpensive city, the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in this country are available at a steep price,” Mercer says.