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Tokyo is the fourth most expensive city in the world for expats

According to this year's Mercer Cost of Living Survey, the capital has got cheaper since taking third place in 2020

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

Earlier this year, Japan was ranked the sixth most desirable country for people looking to move for work, but that popularity comes with a price tag. According to the 2021 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, three major Japanese cities are in the top 40 most expensive cities in the world for overseas workers. 

In this year’s survey, Tokyo comes in fourth, a notch down from last year’s third place ranking. The capital trails behind (from first to third) Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, Hong Kong and Beirut. The other two Japanese cities that made the list were Osaka, which came in 23rd, and Nagoya in 34th place.

The annual report looks at 209 cities worldwide based on the cost of common living expenses such as housing, transportation, food, and entertainment, using New York City as a baseline for comparison. It’s designed to help employers make fairer pay calculations for overseas employees.

The survey also compared cost of living and quality of life, ranking cities based on how they balance the two. On that scale, Tokyo fared much better, ranking as somewhere with a high cost of living, but also high quality of life – in other words, you get really good value for what you pay in Tokyo. So it’s no surprise the capital is regularly named one of the world’s most livable cities.

If you’re curious to see where your city came on the list, you can read and download the full report here.

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