Hong Kong is again the most expensive city in the world to live in.

Hong Kong maintained its top ranking from 2018 in the annual Cost of Living Survey from Mercer, the world's largest human resources consulting firm. Mercer is also the leading provider of data on cost of living and housing for expats, or employees sent to work abroad.

Surprisingly, the top four most expensive cities in the world to live in are all in Asia, as are eight of the top 10. From first to fourth, the most expensive cities are Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul.

Zurich is the fifth costliest and the most expensive city in Europe. New York City is ninth on the list, as well as being the most expensive American city. Sixth to eighth place is held by Shanghai, Ashgabat and Beijing. Shenzhen is number 10.

As a whole, East Asia remains the costliest region for expatriate workers, representing eight of the 20 most expensive cities. On the reverse side, the cheapest cities globally for expats are Tunis, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Karachi.

Apart from New York, the only U.S. cities in the top 20 are San Francisco (16) and Los Angeles (18). New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and most U.S. cities in the list rose in the rankings compared with 2018 because of the relative strengthening of the U.S. dollar.

Conversely, the weakening of the Euro saw many European cities drop in the rankings. On the other hand, Middle Eastern cities were more expensive in 2019 compared to 2018.

China and India are the most populated countries in the world. Above, the Hong Kong skyline. Pixabay, public domain

“Many currencies in the Middle East are pegged to the U.S. dollar, which pushed cities up in the ranking, as well as steep increases for expatriate rental accommodations,” said Yvonne Traber, global mobility product solutions leader at Mercer.

Mercer’s survey examined the cost of living in 2,089 cities across the world. Its rankings are based on the cost of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The survey used New York City as the baseline for comparison. It also took into consideration currency movements against the U.S. dollar.