5 German cities shoot into top 100 of most expensive cities in the world

5 German cities shoot into top 100 of most expensive cities in the world

In international comparison, Germany is generally considered an affordable place to live. However, with countries around the world still struggling with the economic, political and health fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year has seen a major shakeup in cost of living data, according to a new report. 

Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living Survey

The bi-annual Mercer Cost of Living Survey looks at how much things cost in over 400 cities around the world. By comparing the prices of over 200 items and services in each location - things like housing, transportation, utilities, food and home services - Mercer assembles a ranking of the world’s most and least expensive cities. 

The ranking uses New York City as the basis for its comparison, measuring all currencies against the US dollar. The data is intended to help expats make informed decisions about working abroad. 

Amid the turbulent backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, this year’s survey has seen a major shakeup of the scores. Ashgabat in Turkmenistan was found to be the most expensive city for international employees in 2021, pushing Hong Kong into second place. Beirut in Lebanon climbed an astonishing 42 places to rank third overall. 

German cities shoot up the ranking

Germany generally ranks well on cost of living, with German cities usually placing in the lower middle spots, but this year’s survey saw five cities catapulted inside the top 100 and the most expensive city the federal republic, Munich, almost entering the top 50. 

Frankfurt rose 22 places to rank as the 54th most expensive city in the world, while Berlin (up 22 places), Dusseldorf (+26) and Hamburg (+26) staged similarly dramatic ascents, all placing inside the top 100.

This meteoric trend, according to Mercer, can best be explained by the strengthening of local currencies. Indeed, these five German cities weren’t the only ones to soar in the rankings. A number of European metropolises, including Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, Milan, Vienna, Dublin, Brussels, Oslo and Helsinki all rose by at least 18 places. 

The priciest cities in the world

The 2021 Mercer ranking names these 10 cities as the most expensive in the world:

  • 1. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • 2. Hong Kong, Hong Kong (SAR)
  • 3. Beirut, Lebanon
  • 4. Tokyo, Japan
  • 5. Zurich, Switzerland
  • 6. Shanghai, China
  • 7. Singapore, Singapore
  • 8. Geneva, Switzerland
  • 9. Beijing, China
  • 10. Bern, Switzerland

The most affordable cities in the world

Bishkek was crowned the most affordable city in the world in Mercer’s ranking, while no European cities appeared in the bottom 10:

  • 1. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • 2. Lusaka, Zambia
  • 3. Tbilisi, Georgia
  • 4. Tunis, Tunisia
  • 5. Brasilia, Brazil
  • 6. Windhoek, Namibia
  • 7. Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • 8. Gaborone, Botswana
  • 9. Karachi, Pakistan
  • 10. Banjul, Gambia

For the full ranking, and a detailed overview of how the scores are worked out, visit the Mercer website



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

Read more



Leave a comment