Toronto and Vancouver most expensive Canadian cities, says Mercer

06 July 2018 3 min. read
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In a result that scarcely comes as a surprise, Toronto and Vancouver are the two most expensive cities in Canada, according to a new report from HR consultancy Mercer. The firm tracks the cost of living across hundreds of global cities in order to help multinational firms build adequate remuneration packages for expatriate employees.

Multinational firms send their employees around the world, something that is becoming more frequent with globalization, skills shortages (especially digital), and aging populations. In order to help firms assess the costs of their ‘mobile talent’ and requisite remuneration packages, leading human resources consultancy Mercer publishes its annual Cost of Living Survey, now in its 24th edition.

The survey includes over 375 cities around the world, and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location – including housing, transportation, food, clothing, and household goods. New York City is used as the base city for comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore, and Seoul were the five most expensive cities for cost of living for expatriate employees. As such, four out of five of the world’s most expensive cities for expats are in Asia. Rounding out the top ten were Luanda, Angola; Shanghai, China; N’Djamena, Chad; Beijing, China; and Bern, Switzerland. The world’s cheapest cities for expat employees were Tashkent, Uzbekistan (209), Tunis, Tunisia (208), and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (207). Central Asia is seemingly much cheaper for employee cost of living than East Asia.

“Aligning workforce and mobility strategies by ensuring the right employees are in the right place is more critical than ever for multinationals as they focus on new global business models,” said Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business. “And, properly compensating employees on international assignments is as important as it can be costly.”The comparative cost of filling up your stomach and your gas tank across world citiesToronto and Vancouver were tied as the most expensive cities in Canada at a ranking of 109. Vancouver dropped two spots from last year, while Toronto rose eight spots on the back of increased expat rental accommodation costs. Montreal fell eighteen spots to 147, while Calgary fell eleven spots to 154. Ottawa snagged the crown of cheapest Canadian city on the list, at 160.

US cities dropped in the rankings due to the pickup of the European economy (with many EU cities, especially in Germany, rocketing up the rankings) triggering a decline of the US dollar against other currencies. NYC dropped four spots to 13, San Fransisco dropped seven places to 28, LA dropped twelves spots to 35, and Chicago fell twenty spots to 51. Portland, OR (130) and Winston Salem, NC (161) remained the least expensive US cities surveyed.

The cities included in the survey were based on demand from Mercer’s client base. Organizations use the survey data to construct adequate remuneration packages for employees abroad, including expat housing allowances.

Mercer is an expert in international and expatriate compensation management, and supports private and public sector clients worldwide. With 22,000 employees in 44 countries, Mercer is the world’s largest human resources consulting firm, and a leading service provider in the areas of risk, strategy, and people.