Let's admit it, the first lure of working abroad is the salary. If you're flying out to a country that has a pretty strong currency, then chances are the money that you'll be sending back will afford much more when converted to pesos. And while it's a good deal, people sometimes forget that working abroad also means dealing with the cost of living in the locale.


In the 25th Cost of Living Survey by Mercer, the world's largest human resources consultancy firm, they ranked 209 countries from the most expensive to the least expensive to live in. This was based on several factors, "including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation price." 

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Here are the 10 countries with the highest cost of living:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo
  3. Singapore
  4. Seoul
  5. Zürich
  6. Shanghai
  7. Ashgabat
  8. Beijing
  9. New York
  10. Shenzhen

Manila on the other hand, is in the 109th slot, but that doesn't mean that we can all heave a collective sigh of relief as it jumped 29 spots up from 2018, making it one of the biggest climbers globally. One possible reason for this is the implementation of the TRAIN law, as both companies and customers continuously adjust to higher prices of commodities. 

Mario Ferraro, Mercer's Mobility Leader, for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, cautions the government as well as business leaders:


“While the Philippines’ robust economic growth continues to attract talent, business, and investments from all over the world, the findings of Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living study should signal its public and private sectors to take a deeper look and start a conversation on which factors are behind the dramatic increase in its cost of living from 2018 to 2019, and how they can be addressed or mitigated to ensure the country’s continued competitiveness.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Tunis in Tunisia has the lowest cost of living in the world, one step below Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

If you're planning to work abroad, it's good to look at cities in countries with relatively robust economies that aren't as expensive as where you currently are. Here are a few you may want to check out:

Stockholm, Sweden (127th slot)

On of the best ways to get a job in Sweden is to learn the language. That opens a lot of doors, especially since there are only limited job postings for expats. For more information, you can check out the Swedish Public Employment Service.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (141th slot)

Much closer to home! Malaysia has been recently experiencing moderate economic growth (albeit less than what was previously forecasted), which is a good thing to take advantage of. Current job offers are well rounded--from program developers to human resources personnel, you only need to do a bit of digging to find one that's right for you.

Ottowa, Canada (161th slot)

Canada's capital is where it's at: schools, businesses, even the government. Canada is also known to have a good health care system. While Canadian citizens are given preference in job openings, expats are more than welcome, especially if they can speak in both English and French. You may first want to visit Employment and Social Development Canada to sign up for  trainings that will up your chances of finding a job. 

Read the full Cost of Living report here.

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