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Luanda beats London, Hong Kong and Singapore as most expensive city for expatriates

Luxury motor yachts sit at their harbor moorings in Ilha district beyond the city center skyline in Luanda, Angola
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Luxury motor yachts sit at their harbor moorings in Ilha district beyond the city center skyline in Luanda, Angola

Angola's capital city Luanda is the priciest city for expatriates to relocate to this year, according to a study conducted by Movinga, a moving services start-up.

Living costs for the first month of living in Luanda were $3,259.32, slightly higher than costs incurred from living in New York ($3,084.75) and San Francisco ($3,050.10.)

Data points used to calculate the monthly average living costs in each city comprised of averages for monthly rent for a one-bedroom property close to the city, phone data plan, food and drink, and a monthly transportation pass.

Zurich, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and Seattle rounded up the 10 most expensive cities to live in for expats, according to the Relocation Price Index.

The most affordable cities included Medellin, Bucharest and Tunis, where living costs for the first month averaged only $397.80.

Buildings stand illuminated along Victoria Harbour at night in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016
Justin Chin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Buildings stand illuminated along Victoria Harbour at night in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016

This is not the first time that Luanda has emerged the most expensive city to live in. The Angolan city also ranked first in Mercer's annual Cost of Living Survey in 2014 and 2015, before slipping down to second place in the same survey in 2016.

Demand and supply factors could explain Luanda's ranking, according to commentary from the World Economic Forum (WEF). In the 2015 article that analyzed the reasons why Angola frequently topped cost of living indices despite having a fraction of the GDP per capita of its counterparts, the WEF stated that costs were high because indices such as the Mercer Survey considered costs of living for expatriates rather than locals.

Due to the limited supply of accommodation that expats typically choose to live in, prices tend to be significantly higher, the WEF stated. Coupled with the recovery in the commodities markets over the past year, Angola, which is highly dependent on oil, could be experiencing a further uptick in expat costs of living as the economy picks up.

Separately, the Relocation Price Index also found that on average, the average moving cost of relocating to Hong Kong was the highest, at $3,877.29. The cheapest moving costs were found in Seoul, where it would only cost $297.32.

The sum was calculated by averaging the cost of shipping one's belongings over a distance of 155 miles, the average distance traveled by professionals relocating for work according to Movinga.

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