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Expats: Where can you afford to live?


Downtown Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—cheapest city for ex-pats      Photo: Intergelpo

If you've ever thought of living or working in Europe (and which of us hasn't at some point, even those who live in a different part of Europe) have had to consider two important questions: First, obviously, legal permission to stay, and second, Can I afford it?

Depends on where you want to live. According to Mercer's, a U.S.-based consulting firm that advises companies on overseas employee issues, Zurich is the most expensive European city for expats and No. 3 in the world, even though the U.S. dollar has strengthened against the Swiss franc recently.

Among the cheapest European expat cities on the list, five were in Germany (Leipzig, Nurnberg, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Dusseldorf), two in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona, both of which dropped sharply this year), along with Lyon, France, Lisbon and Belfast.

Zurich, Geneva (#5) and Bern (#9) were the only two European cities to make the "10 most expensive" list. The others, in order from most expensive, were Luanda, Angola (where prices are cheap but security is expensive); Hong Kong; Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and N'Djamena, in Chad. Tokyo and London were 11 and 12, and New York 16.

At the low-price end of the 207-city list, from most to least expensive, were Tbilisi, Georgia; Managua, Nicaragua; Cape Town, S.A.; Minsk, Belarus; Skopje, Macedonia; Tunis, Tunisia; Karachi, Pakistan; Windhoek, Namibia and the low-price leader, Bishkik, Kyrgyzstan.

You can read the entire list at Mercer's website. Requires a sign-in, but no fee.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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