Expat Rent Prices – Worldwide City Ranking 2016

Published in April 2016

  • London Centre is still the most expensive place in the world for expats to rent a flat
  • Moscow continues to fall down the ranking
  • The first euro zone city is only 25th: Paris
  • US cities notably progress in the ranking

EuroCost International publishes its new worldwide ranking of rents paid by expats.
Although expat housing conditions can vary a lot from one country to another, EuroCost International publishes a yearly worldwide ranking based on a specific type of housing.
This time, we have considered 2- and 3-bedroom flats (average prices converted in euros, reference date December 2015).

Rents paid in USD continue to progress unlike those paid in euro

Top locations of this ranking remain unchanged since last year; major changes concern the rise of US cities and the fall of all locations where expats pay their rents in euro.

Top 20 ranking of rents paid by expats 2016


1 (=)

London United Kingdom (1)

2 (=)

Hong Kong



3 (=)




4 (=)

New York, NY

United States


5 (=)




6 (↑)

San Francisco, CA

United States


7 (↑)




8 (↓)




9 (↓)




10 (↑)


South Sudan


11 (↓)




12 (↑)




13 (↑)




14 (↑)

Washington, DC

United States


15 (↓)




16 (↓)




17 (↓)




18 (↑)

Los Angeles, CA

United States


19 (↑)

Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates


20 (↓)




The most expensive cities in the world

Renting a 2- or 3-bedroom flat can result particularly expensive for an expat.
For the third consecutive year, London is the most expensive place in the world for an expat to rent such flat. Average price for a good quality 2-bedroom flat is now over 6000 euros in the city centre! Many expats therefore opt for the Greater London where prices, although high, are more affordable.

Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York also keep their positions because of strong currencies and still more expensive rents.

Luanda, Angola’s capital, confirms its status of most expensive African city in spite of the strong price decreases reported on the rental market in 2015. Luanda also benefits from the strength of the dollar since expats usually pay their rents in this currency.

San Francisco is now 6th and continues its notable rise (15th two years ago and 8th last year). Apartment rent prices have increased by 10% on average in dollar and the dollar has still reinforced against the euro, thus generating strong cost increases for European expats.

Geneva is regularly present in the top places of this ranking. The strength of the Swiss franc has made the city gain one spot this year. This is partly due to the Swiss national bank’s decision in January 2015 to put an end to its policy of capping the Swiss franc against the euro.

Moscow continues to move down the ranking: rent prices expressed in dollar or in euro have again decreased in 2015. Two years ago, the Russian capital was 2nd in the ranking.

Singapore has lost two places to 9th because of the slight decrease of its rent prices in 2015.

Juba (South Sudan) has joined the list of the world’s top 10 most expensive cities for expats to rent a flat. Rent prices have indeed again increased in 2015.

The second half of the top 20 ranking is more ‘diversified’ than last year with 4 Asian cities (against 6 last year), three Middle East locations, two American cities and one European one.

The Asia-Pacific area is represented by Shanghai (12th), Sydney (16th), Mumbai (17th) and Beijing (20th), but Seoul and Osaka no longer appear in the top 20.

Middle East is home to three of the world’s top 20 costliest rental locations: Beirut (11th), Doha (13th) and Abu Dhabi (19th).

In spite of a less positive economic environment than last year due to the falling oil prices, Doha has confirmed its place among the most expensive cities, partly helped by its currency which is pegged to the dollar.

If Zurich (15th) and Washington (14th) are regularly present in our yearly top 20, it is a first for Los Angeles. The Californian city owes its place to the strength of the dollar and to the strong increases reported in its rental prices.

Euro zone cities continue to fall down the ranking. The first one is Paris and it only ranks 25th.


This area remains the world champion of the ranking with seven cities in the top 20 (against nine last year).

The regional ranking is nearly the same as in 2015. Hong Kong remains the most expensive city in the area and Tokyo is still 2nd. The only change is a switch between Beijing (7th) and Seoul (8th).

Top 10 Asia-Oceania

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo
  3. Singapore
  4. Shanghai
  5. Sydney
  6. Mumbai
  7. Beijing
  8. Seoul
  9. Osaka
  10. Jakarta


Europe is still represented by four cities in the world top 20 and its intern ranking is also very similar to the one of last year.

London is still the most expensive place in Europe and Moscow loses one spot to Geneva.

The only change in the European ranking concerns spot 10th: Vienna has overtaken Oslo, helped by the weakening of the Norwegian krone not only against the dollar, but also again the euro.

European Top 10

  1. London
  2. Geneva
  3. Moscow
  4. Zurich
  5. Paris
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Kiev
  8. Copenhagen
  9. The Hague
  10. Vienna


The American continent is represented by four cities in the world top 20 and what strikes the eye when looking at the regional ranking is the omnipresence of US cities (8 out of 10).

The ones above mentioned in the world top 20 (New York, San Francisco, Washington and Los Angeles) are followed by Miami, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia!

The only ones that come in between are Mexico and Panama.

The very strong devaluation of the Brazilian real against the dollar and the euro has made Sao Paulo and Rio collapse in the ranking whereas last year they were still 5th and 6th respectively.

American Top 10

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Washington
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Miami
  6. Boston
  7. Mexico
  8. Chicago
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Panama


Africa remains underrepresented in the world ranking of the most expensive cities but, in many African countries, expats prefer to opt for a villa rather than a flat. That is why several countries do not appear in this flat ranking whereas housing costs may be very high for expats.

Juba and Luanda that appear in the world top 20 occupy the first two spots. They are followed by Lagos and Kinshasa, as last year.

The fifth location, Maputo is a newcomer in the African top 5: expat rental prices have strongly increased during the last few years. Mozambique’s capital also notably progresses in the world ranking. It is now 39th whereas it was still 83rd two years ago!

African Top 5

  1. Luanda
  2. Juba
  3. Lagos
  4. Kinshasa
  5. Maputo

Middle East

Middle East is now home to three of the world's top 20 most expensive cities (Beirut, Doha and Abu Dhabi) and two other locations also belong to the world top 30: Dubai (21st) and Riyadh (27th).

The only change in the Middle East top 5 refers to the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi and Dubai have switched their places. Average rent prices are currently very close in those two cities.

Middle East Top 5

  1. Beyrut
  2. Doha
  3. Abu Dhabi
  4. Dubai
  5. Riyadh

Specific expat surveys

EuroCost International data reflects the local rental market for expats and therefore differs from the local rental market in terms of price level as well as evolution.
Areas selected for our surveys are the residential areas frequented by expats.
We collect prices for different types of housing, from studios to large detached houses, but these can be adapted to the specificity of each country. In a country where all expats live in houses, our survey will only report house prices.
All dwellings considered range from good to very good quality to ensure that expats benefit from comfortable living conditions.
Prices are collected in the currency used for the payment of the rent (very often USD’s or in euros rather than in local currency).
Housing is a crucial element for an expatriation; therefore many companies seriously consider their expats’ living conditions.
Our rent surveys are usually provided separately from the cost of living index to fully meet the needs of our customers, but rent prices can be included in our indices.


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