Expat rent prices

2021 Worldwide city ranking



EuroCost International has published its new worldwide ranking of rents paid by expats.

Although expat housing conditions can vary substantially from one country to another, EuroCost International publishes a yearly worldwide ranking based on a specific type of housing.

This ranking is based on a panel of two and three-bedroom flats (average prices converted into euros, with December 2020 as a reference date).

 Key points

  • Despite the pandemic, the top 20 ranking of the most expensive cities in the world has remained stable. Unsurprisingly, the 4 cities at the top of the ranking have remained unchanged, with Tokyo still leading.
  • Paris and Amsterdam have returned to the top 20.
  • Mexico City has risen 7 places, and Boston is ranked in twentieth position.


The most expensive cities in the world

The pandemic has clearly impacted upon the level of rents for homes which are customarily occupied by expatriates around the world. While there was no disturbance to the top of the rankings, the impact upon the remainder of the table was more substantial. The major effect of the pandemic, in terms of this specific rental market, has been a decrease in the number of expatriates in some cities, and a consequent drop in rents. Movements in the rankings were therefore mainly fuelled by this drop, and the winning cities have been those that have managed to maintain their market.

Renting a two or three-bedroom apartment can be particularly expensive for an expat. It is still in Tokyo that rents for this type of dwelling are the highest.

As they did last year, Hong Kong, London and New York stand with Tokyo at the top of the rankings. Although rents expressed in euros have fallen (by a margin ranging from -2.1% to -11.3%), these cities have confirmed their position.

Moscow has returned to the top 5. This had not happened since 2014. Despite the pandemic, high quality housing left vacant was in high demand from the well-to-do local population. As a result, these high-end homes have seen rents increase (+3.8% in 2020) or have at least been sustained, unlike other cities which have not benefited from this local demand.

Beirut, regularly in our top 10 since 2010, is positioned in 6th place this year. The problematic situation in Lebanon has had a perverse impact upon the rental market for expatriates, which has seen a further rise.

Geneva (+2) and San Francisco (-2) have regularly appeared in the top 10. They are now in 7th and 8th positions.

Singapore has fallen 4 places, dropping to 9th position. The decline in the ranking of this global financial center is clearly attributable to the health crisis.

Washington has remained virtually in the same place (11th in 2019), and completes the top 10.


Regional highlights


 1. Luanda
 2. Bangui
 3. Juba
 4. Accra
 5. Kinshasa  

Africa remains under-represented in the world ranking of the most expensive cities although, in many African countries, expats prefer houses to apartments. For this reason, several countries do not appear in this ranking for apartments, even though housing costs may be very high for expats.

As already mentioned in the world top 20, Luanda and Bangui stand at the top of this regional ranking.

Juba has lost his place as leader, and now ranks in 3rd position.

In fourth and fifth place, we find the cities of Accra and Kinshasa, as was the case last year.



The Americas

 1. New York, NY
 6. Boston, MA
 2. San Francisco, CA
 7. Miami, FL
 3. Washington, DC
 8. Chicago, IL
 4. Los Angeles, CA
 9. Vancouver
 5. Mexico City
 10. Philadelphia, PA

The North American continent is now only represented by five cities in the top 20, but it occupies 9 of the top 10 places in the regional ranking.

It should be noted that these cities are mainly large cities in the United States (New York, San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Chicago and Philadelphia).

Mexico City has risen 3 places, and is now in 5th position. Above all, this progression should be seen as a mechanical effect due to the decline in other cities, associated with the pandemic.

Vancouver and Philadelphia have switched positions. Vancouver has risen one place, and is now in 9th position, followed by Philadelphia which completes the American top 10.




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

There have been few changes in this regional ranking, which includes nine of the ten cities from last year.

As was the case last year, Tokyo remains the most expensive city in the area, ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing.

Seoul has risen two places, and moves ahead of Sydney, which has dropped by one place.

Manilla has moved up one place ahead of Mumbai, which has fallen back two places.

The only major change involves Jakarta, which has reappeared in this ranking, advancing six places in spite of a declining rental market.




 1. London
 6. Paris

 2. Moscow

 7. Lausanne
 3. Geneva
 8. Dublin
 4. Zurich
 9. Copenhagen
 5. Amsterdam
 10. Kiev

Europe is represented by six cities in the top 20.

This European regional ranking is almost identical to that of last year. London still occupies first place, followed by Moscow, Geneva, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Paris then ranks in 6th position, followed by Lausanne in 7th place and Dublin in 8th.

Copenhagen and Kiev have swapped places. Copenhagen is in 9th position this year, ahead of Kiev in 10th place.



Middle East

 1. Beirut
 2. Tel Aviv
 3. Doha
 4. Riyadh
 5. Dubai

The Middle East is represented in our top 20 by a single city, Beirut.

As was the case last year, this city is followed by Tel Aviv (twenty-fifth in the world ranking).

In 3rd place comes Doha (thirty-second worldwide), followed in 4th place by Riyadh (48th worldwide) and Dubai in 5th (59th worldwide).

It should be noted that these last 3 cities share one feature in common, having dropped several places in our world ranking.


Our methodology: specific expat surveys

EuroCost International data reflect the local rental market for expats, and therefore differ from the local rental market, in terms of price levels as well as movements.

Areas selected for our surveys are 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 specific features of each country. In a country where all expats live in houses, our survey will only report house prices.

All the dwellings considered range from good to very good quality, in order to ensure that expats benefit from comfortable living conditions.

Prices are collected in the currency used for the payment of rent (frequently US dollars or euros, rather than the local currency).

Housing is a crucial factor for expatriation; consequently, many companies give serious consideration to their expats' living conditions.

Our rent surveys are usually provided separately from the cost of living index, in order to fully meet the needs of our customers, although rent prices can be included in our indices.


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