Germany offers expats more bang for their buck

Jörg Luyken
Jörg Luyken - [email protected]
Germany offers expats more bang for their buck
Frankfurt's skyline by night. Photo: DPA

German cities are getting ever cheaper for American expats to live in compared to the rest of the world, according to a report released by consulting firm Mercer on Wednesday.


The survey studied more than 200 cities across five continents for costs of housing, food, transportation, and entertainment, among other factors. The survey was based on how far a salary in US dollars would get you.

Munich was ranked as the most expensive German city, coming in at number 87 worldwide. The Bavarian capital was followed by Frankfurt (98), Berlin (106) Düsseldorf (114) and Hamburg (124), all of which Mercer found to be cheaper for Americans to live in, in comparison with 2014.

While German cities rank middling globally, they clearly offer the chance of keeping more cash in your pocket than other west European metropoles.

Three Swiss cities, Zurich (3), Geneva (5) and Bern (9), are ranked in the top ten most expensive cities globally. London comes in at number 12 while even other British cities like Birmingham (80) and Aberdeen (82) offer Americans less bang for their buck than any German city.

"The fact that German cities have fallen in the rankings has nothing to do with Germany itself, but is a general development in the whole of western Europe and is based upon the development of the euro and its weakening in comparison with the American dollar," a spokesperson for Mercer told The Local.

"German cities have not become cheaper over the last 12 months, the opposite is actually true. In comparison with other west European cities they have become more expensive."

Still, anyone thinking about stretching their horizons could do better than Germany. For a place that really makes every dollar count, St. Petersburg, Russia has dropped 117 places in the rankings, making the beautiful Baltic city the 152nd most expensive place to work abroad.

The collapse in cost of living in Russia’s cultural capital has been caused by the country’s currency troubles and the economic pain caused by western sanctions, argues the report. Moscow has also dropped 41 places.

Or for the more adventurous, one could always try Belarussian capital Minsk (200), Europe’s cheapest city for expats.

But, if you're looking to save money, you probably want to avoid Luanda in Angola, surprisingly ranked the most expensive town for US expats.

While costs of living are relatively low in the southern African city, notes the report, security costs and the price of imports make it even more expensive than the notoriously pricey Swiss urban centres.

“Despite moderate price increases in most of the European cities, European currencies have weakened against the US dollar which pushed most Western European cities down in the ranking,” explained Natalie Constantin-Métral, the survey’s author, in a statement.

“Additionally, other factors like the eurozone’s economy, falling interest rates, and increasing unemployment have impacted these cities.”



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