Mercer 2021 Cost of Living City ranking: Where is Cape Town and Joburg?

Mercer has released their annual Cost of Living City ranking. The ranking takes into consideration everyday living costs ranging from housing to personal care.

Cape Town and Johannesburg became more expensive for expats from 2020 to 2021 but both cities are still more affordable for expats than many other major cities around the world.

The Mother City and Joburg are more affordable than Washington, London, and Sydney

The 2021 Mercer Cost of Living City ranking included 206 cities from around the world. Cape Town ranked at number 178, while Johannesburg ranked in the 184th position making it a cheaper city for expats than the Mother City.

How do both cities compare to other major cities from around the world?

Your money will go further in Cape Town and Johannesburg than in Washington (51), London (18), and Sydney (31).

The same is true for European cities such as Munich in Germany (54), Amsterdam in the Netherlands (44), and Brussels in Belgium (53).

When looking at cities on the African continent, the cost of living in both Cape Town and Johannesburg is lower than in Kigali, Rwanda (175), Kampala, Uganda (171), and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (167).

How does the Mercer Cost of Living City ranking work?

The annual Mercer Cost of Living City ranking is based on Mercer’s Cost of Living survey, one of the most recognized and comprehensive surveys of its kind. The survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees.

New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The survey includes over 400 cities throughout the world. In 2021, the ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Domestic supplies
  • Home services
  • Personal care
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Recreation and entertainment
  • Alcohol and tobacco

Key insights from the 2021 Cost of Living City ranking

The most expensive city in the world for expats is Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, followed by Hong Kong and Beirut.

The Lebanese capital climbed 42 positions in the ranking due to the political turmoil of the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Port of Beirut explosion have also amplified the economic effects, causing record-high inflation.

Tokyo and Zurich each dropped one spot from 2020 to 2021. Tokyo ranks at number four in 2021, and Zurich ranks in the fifth position.

Other cities in the top 10 of Mercer’s Cost of Living city ranking are Shangai (6), Singapore (7), Geneva (8), Beijing (9), and Bern (10). The world’s least expensive cities for international employees according to Mercer’s survey are Tbilisi (207), Lusaka (208), and Bishkek (209)

Want to know more about the Cost of Living City ranking?

If you want to find out more about Mercer’s Cost of Living City ranking, click here to get the details from their website. You can also download the complete ranking from the site.