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The 10 Most Expensive Countries For Expats

FUN FACTS October 17, 2016 By Hugo

Thanks to globalisation, more people are travelling further from their homes and looking for opportunities elsewhere, yet some places would get the better of even the most prudent of expats. Just take these 10 countries. While not necessarily rich in monuments and job opportunities, the cost of living in these 10 nations is incredibly high.

With that in mind, we at OMG Lane- whether it's the price of a loaf of bread or the cost of rent- have profiled what many experts believe are the 10 most expensive countries for expats.


10. Canada

Often thought of as a socially liberal and morally upstanding place,  Canada's high cost of living makes it 18% more costly to reside in than its rival and more famous neighbour, America. This is because of their real estate market. Like what is going on in London or New York, Canada's booming house prices has made property unaffordable for most, with the issue not just being the problem of one or two big cities like it is in Britain or America.


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To put things into perspective, the average house price in Toronto, Canada's most populated city, is $710,000. In New York, it is $586,400. 

In other words, unless you're a wealthy expat, you can forget about moving here. 


9. Luxembourg

Luxembourg may not be the on the radar of many expats, but those who call it home often complain about the cost of groceries. Housing isn't cheap either in this tiny principality, though living away from the aptly named capital is much less expensive.


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The cost of private education is also high, mainly due to the residents and expats residing there being of a wealthy disposition.


8. Finland

Finland's high cost of living is geographically dependent on how close you are to the capital. In fact, Helsinki is one of the world’s most expensive cities, with most of its food being imported causing the price of groceries to be highly valuable. 


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Alcohol is also heavily taxed, meaning those used to going out every weekend may want to take up other activities instead. However, as is the case with many Scandinavians, quality over quantity is much preferred, meaning everything you buy there is likely to be of the highest quality.


7. Japan

For all its beauty and eccentricities, Japan isn't cheap, and that has much to do with it's ageing population and overall size of the country, with over 127 million people living on an island smaller than California. As such, demand almost always outstrips supply, leaving many expats struggling to find accommodation that isn't bank-breaking.


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Like with Finland, there is also a cultural acceptance of higher prices and nowhere is that more apparent than in Tokyo, where the average price for a loaf of bread is $9.06. 


6. Sweden

The second Scandinavian country to feature is Sweden, a place known for all things beautiful. Still, expats may see beyond the lines once they realise that beneath the country's captivating exterior is an interior where nothing comes cheap.


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Housing is one of the primary expenses, with most putting aside at least 30% of their disposable income for rent or mortgage payments. Clothing is another, with Swedes, perhaps due to the cold conditions, preferring quality over cheaper high street garments while alcohol is sold by a government-run monopoly, meaning you won't find it rare for a pint of your favourite drink to be in the $13 region. 


5. Denmark 

Denmark isn't cheap, (Noma, a restaurant that regularly tops the world's best restaurants list, is located in Copenhagen) and though it's regularly voted the happiest place on Earth, it's high tax rates probably aren't behind why. Typically, 41 percent of a commodity's sale will go straight to the Danish government through sales tax and corporate tax.


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Thus, businesses are more inclined to raise the prices of their goods to cover employee wages and other expenses. Admittedly, the benefits for those out of work are high, but expats looking for jobs must be prepared to experience a significant decrease in their standard of living or be very wealthy if they are to appreciate the Danish way of life fully.


4. Australia

Due to Australia's isolated location, an estimated two-thirds of Aussies live in cities of one million residents or more, meaning housing is always expensive. Sydney and Melbourne, for instance, are the fifth and sixth most expensive countries on Earth.


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Australians also pay much more for imported goods because of their geographical location which results in higher transportation costs, and thus higher prices. Even electronic products, such as payable iTune downloads, are more expensive than anywhere else due to geo-blocking, a policy which discriminates against individual countries based on their location.


3. Bermuda

Bermuda has long been shrouded in controversy for its tax laws, with many of those laws supposedly being taking advantage of by wealthy expats and because of its popularity among the rich, the tropical paradise has a higher cost of living than most other places.


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To put things into perspective, Bermuda's cost of living is triple that of the U.S. and 280% more than Canada. Unsurprisingly, housing and clothing are notoriously expensive, and as nothing is produced on the island, most things have to be imported, meaning one's weekly grocery bill won't be pretty.


2. Norway

Norway is a country rich in oil, but rather than make everyone's standard of living increase, inflationary pressures has forced prices up.


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As is the case with every Scandinavian country, Norway has built its social democratic economy around high taxes and strong public services, which may shock expats seeking a cheaper option to places more readily associated with higher costs of living.


1. Switzerland

Long linked to wealthy individuals not keen on paying their fair share of tax, the tiny country of Switzerland has become a haven over the years for the rich and famous.  The costs can be extremely high, however, for those who don't fall into those two categories.


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Located in the middle of the EU but not a part of it, Switzerland may as well be an island in the middle of nowhere, such are the high costs of importing and exporting.  Minimum wages are also extremely high (grocery clerks typically earn around $25 an hour) which often leads to higher everyday costs. Magazines and clothing, for example, are 128% and 37% more expensive, respectively, than areas outside Switzerland.


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