Lonely Planet Writer

Revealed: emerging global cities cited best for ex pat living

Every spring, Mercer, a consulting company, publishes an annual ranking of the cost of living for expat business people. Its list ranks the quality of living for more than 200 cities.

The streets of Vienna.
The streets of Vienna. Image by Emmanuel Dyan / CC BY 2.0

This year’s top five entries are the same as last year’s: Vienna, Zurich, Auckland, Munich, and Vancouver — in that order. Mercer ranked these cities according to the cost of a basket of some 200 items that include housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

More newsworthy is that Mercer’s list this year offers an “emerging cities” list for expats. These are a handful of cities that it sees as growing quickly in the ranks and that, for a variety of economic factors, seem to have lots of expansion ahead of them.

We’ve hand-picked a half-dozen of these cities for a taster menu. If your expat dreams involve a place where you may be able to make a good living while having a good life, check these locales out. We’re presenting them in the order in which Mercer ranked them for quality of life:

Durban, South Africa: Mercer points out that it’s a “growing manufacturing center.” But don’t neglect this South African city’s glorious beaches.

The beach at Durban, South Africa.
The beach at Durban, South Africa. Image by Diriye Amey / CC BY 2.0

Taichung, Taiwan. Mercer notes that this city, which is well connected transit-wise with the capital of Taipei, has “rich cultural traditions have helped bring in key local and international industries.” As Lonely Planet’s guide points out, “The city center has several attractions for travelers, and it’s a good base to make side trips to the outer area, which has a lot more to offer.

Wroclaw, Poland. Mercer says it has “a strong talent pool and good infrastructure.” But Lonely Planet says “Everyone loves Wroclaw (vrots-wahf) and it’s easy to see why: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/poland/silesia/wroclaw

Manaus, Brazil. The Amazon’s largest city is part of a Free Economic Zone, that attracts businesses, according to Mercer. But Lonely Planet adds: “The city itself has some genuinely rewarding sights, including a leafy zoo with as many animals out of the cages as in them, and a beach-and-museum combo that gets you out of the city center.”

Chongqing, China.
Chongqing, China. Image by Tauno Tõhk / CC BY-SA 2.0

Chóngqìng, China Lonely Planet calls it “one of the fastest-growing, buzzing cities in all China” — an assessment that Mercer seconds. It also has “a panoply of ancient Buddhist sculptures” and is surrounded by “dozens of seemingly lost-in-time villages.”

Pune, India. Mercer likes how it hosts many information technology and automotive companies, meaning that there’s lots of jobs and money being made. But Lonely Planet points out that it “epitomizes ‘New India’, with its baffling mix of capitalism, spiritualism, ancient and modern.”