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NZ still attractive to expats despite rising cost of living

Despite our rising cost of living, New Zealand remains a competitive choice for expats, according to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2011.

Despite our rising cost of living, New Zealand remains a competitive choice for expats, according to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2011.

The Mercer study compares the relative costs of shifting to a new city for business, providing governments and large firms with information to protect the purchasing power of employees when they are transferred abroad.

The study, carried out in March 2011 but released this week, shows that New Zealand cities are fairly competitive. Covering 214 cities worldwide, the study showed that Auckland, our city with the highest cost-rank, was placed 118, with Wellington at 136.

While both cities have made significant jumps—last year Auckland was placed 149 and Wellington 163—none of our cities came anywhere near the top, whereas Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide all featured in the top 50 most expensive cities for relocation (Sydney was ranked highest at 14).

Mercer senior associate Sarah Barnaby says rising costs due to currency fluctuations and natural disasters, have presented challenges for multi-national organisations managing workforces in New Zealand. However, she says this doesn’t diminish the appeal of New Zealand in the eyes of expats or their employers.

“Despite a rise in the cost of living, New Zealand remains a highly competitive location for international employers with rankings far below those of other cities in Asia Pacific. Additionally, multi-national organisations are more than likely to absorb any short-term increases associated with relocating staff to New Zealand,” Barnaby says.

“Organisations managing an international workforce should not view costs associated with currency fluctuations in isolation but factor it into the longer-term growth plan for the business,” she says.

Mercer’s annual Cost of Living survey looks at cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it.

Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore and Hong Kong remain the most expensive destinations in the Asia Pacific region with Singapore at 8th place and Hong Kong at 9th place.

Globally, Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the second year running. Tokyo remains in second position and N’Djamena in Chad in third place. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. Zurich jumps one position to rank seventh, while Hong Kong drops down to ninth.