Ashgabat has replaced Hong Kong as the most expensive city for foreign workers based on the 2021 Cost of Living survey by Mercer, an American firm. Hong Kong dropped to second place.

The annual report ranks 209 cities based on factors such as housing, transport, and food. The survey was created to help companies and governments around the world figure out how much they should pay expatriate employees. Most of the cities included in the top 10 are business centers where economic growth caused an increase in pricing of living expenses. Ashgabat, a city of about one million people, experienced food shortages due to the COVID19 pandemic. According to Mercer, its rise to the top spot is because of high inflation. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov promised to turn it into “one of the most successful cities in the world”. Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, moved from its 45th spot last year and is now on the third spot. According to Mercer, this is due to the country’s recent political and economic crises. Other cities on the list include Tokyo which placed fourth and Shanghai which placed fifth. Three cities in Switzerland also made it to the top 10 list.