Moscow Rental Market Tops Expat Housing List

April 2, 2009 ( - Employees who plan on renting housing in Moscow had better bring a lot of money.

That’s because, according to a new Mercer study of housing costs for expatriates, Moscow is the costliest city in which to rent property, according to a news release.

With New York as the base city (with a score of 100 points), Mercer said Moscow is at the top of the ranking at 168.30. Johannesburg came in at position 50, with a 31.50 score. As the index is based on cost comparisons using the U.S. dollar, currency exchange rates have an influence on the rankings.

Mercer said the data from 300 cities around the world focused on the 50 most popular expatriate assignment cities and is based on typical rentals for one- to four-bedroom apartments and three- to four-bedroom houses, furnished and unfurnished.

U.S. Markets

In the U.S. the rental market within some cities is resilient and rental prices across the country are increasing. New York City, in fifth place, has moved up two positions (100.00), while Los Angeles ranks 17 (72.60), Mercer said.

“The growing number of foreclosures in the United States is forcing more people to rent houses and apartments,” saidRebecca Powers, principal with Mercer, in the news release. “However, as unemployment and other economic factors begin to influence the market, rental prices are expected to decrease.”

Most cities in South America have dropped in ranking, with Sao Paulo moving from 16th to 27th place (53.40) and Rio de Janeiro moving from 20th to 35th place (49.40), affected by the near 50% devaluation of the Brazilian real against the U.S. dollar.

Mercer said Caracas, ranked 18 (68.00), is now the most expensive city in the region, followed by Bogota in 22nd place (58.00); while Mexico City in 49th place (37.50) has dropped 11 positions since 2008. Buenos Aires is up from 47th to 42nd place (42.00).

European Cities

Other European cities in the top 20 include Paris in 13th place (77.20), Kiev at 14th place (75.50), Milan at 15th place (75.40), and Copenhagen at 20th place (61.10). Warsaw has dropped 13 places to position 31 (50.80), driven by the zloty’s strong devaluation against the dollar, Mercer said.

The figures for Mercer’s housing for expatriates were compiled in late October using September exchange rates, and then compared with later exchange rates in February.

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