The 2015 Cost of Living Survey by Mercer has placed Buenos Aires above São Paulo as the most expensive city in Latin America for foreign residents. Over the last year, the Argentine capital jumped from 86 to 19 in the world as a result of “a strong price increase for goods and services,” according to the survey. It is now more costly to live there than in some European cities like Copenhagen.
The changes in the region since last year’s survey are also due to the deprecation of currencies like the Brazilian real with respect to the dollar. Latin America’s most expensive cities after Buenos Aires are São Paulo (40th in the world), Rio de Janeiro (67), Santiago (70) and Montevideo (83).
The study by international consultancy firm Mercer includes 207 cities from five continents and measures the comparative costs of more than 200 items in each location, such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
New York and the U.S. dollar are used as the base city and currency for the survey. Its objective is to help multinational businesses and governments determine benefits and compensation for workers living abroad.
The 21st edition of the study has placed Luanda, capital of Angola, as the world’s most expensive city for expats for the third year running, due to the high cost of housing and need for imported goods and security. Hong Kong (2), Zurich (3), Singapore (4) and Geneva (5) complete the top five.
London remained in 12th place and New York is still the most expensive city in the United States (16). Moscow slid 41 positions to 50th as a result of US economic sanctions affecting the rouble.
Caracas was excluded from the study due to Venezuela’s complex currency situation, as its ranking would have varied depending on the exchange rate used.
The least expensive cities in the world for expats are Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Windhoek (Namibia) and Karachi (Pakistan).
Top ten most expensive cities for expats in Latin America
2015 2014 City Country
19 86 Buenos Aires Argentina
40 49 São Paulo Brazil
67 65 Rio de Janeiro Brazil
70 88 Santiago Chile
83 114 Montevideo Uruguay
89 139 San Juan Puerto Rico
96 81 Port-au-Prince Haiti
104 145 Panama City Panama
110 132 San José Costa Rica
122 135 Lima Peru