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Shanghai, Beijing enter list of the world's most expensive cities

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The top tier Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing and its special administrative region Hong Kong have become more expensive for expatriates in the last year as they move into ECA International's top 10 most expensive cities in its annual Cost of Living survey.

The cities, which moved from positions off the top 10 list in 2014, became pricier partly due to currency moves this year, said ECA International, a human resource consultancy.

With the Hong Kong dollar pegged to the U.S. dollar, the Chinese territory is becoming more expensive this year as the greenback has gained against most other currencies, said Lee Quane, the company's regional director for Asia.

Meanwhile in China, the yuan is still up against major competitors despite the surprise devaluation in August that rumbled markets.

"In spite of the minor depreciation in the renminbi against the dollar over the summer, it has strengthened against most other currencies leading to Shanghai becoming the most expensive Asian city for international assignees. This reflects the general trend seen in China with Chinese locations gradually moving up our rankings over recent years. It is likely that major Chinese cities will remain expensive destinations for mobile executives for the foreseeable future," said Quane in a press release Thursday

Other top tier Chinese cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen are also in the top 20 most expensive cities.

If the U.S. dollar continues to rise with the yuan gradually depreciating in the next year, Hong Kong will overtake Shanghai and Beijing as Asia's most expensive city, Lee told CNBC's Squawk Box on Friday.

The top four most expensive cities in the world are all in Switzerland which saw the Swiss Franc jump after the Swiss National Bank stunned markets in January by removing its three-year old cap of 1.20 Swiss francs per euro.

The Swiss Franc is up 10 percent against the euro year-to-date.


The African cities of Luanda in Angola and Kinshasa in Congo came in the top fifth and sixth places due to limited access to goods and services that expatriates are accustomed to, which tend to change little over time regardless of location, said Quane.

The survey also does not include the cost of housing and education as those are traditionally compensated separately by employers, he said.

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