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Cost of Living survey highlights

Uncertainty is affecting many large markets and volatility is here to stay. The United Kingdom is still reeling from its vote to leave the EU with markets unsure what to expect, especially given the recent election result - exchange rates are volatile and inflation is rising. The Japanese yen has yo-yoed from a period of strength, which took Tokyo to the title of ECA’s most expensive city in the world six months ago, to losing 10% of its value against the US dollar. Political uncertainty has also affected Turkey which is still feeling the political and economic ramifications of the failed coup in July 2016. Brazil has already had one president impeached in the past year and the incumbent, Michel Temer, has been caught up in a bribery scandal (although he has now been acquitted). In Venezuela, things have deteriorated as shortages of basic goods have worsened and political unrest and violence are both on the rise. The exchange rate regime is dysfunctional and the economy is close to collapse under the pressure of hyperinflation. 

ECA has prepared this interactive map to help you understand how key events around the world have affected cost of living indices during our survey period. This should act as a useful guide when considering whether to amend assignee cost of living allowances to ensure that spending power is maintained.

If you require any assistance, or would like additional information or data on the 464 locations included in our survey, or need advice regarding currency fluctuations, please get in touch with your ECA representative.


Post-survey developments

A number of currencies have moved significantly since the March 2017 Cost of Living Survey was published, which will have a significant impact on future indices for those locations. The biggest change of all was seen in Venezuela which devalued the DICOM exchange rate massively. A US dollar will now buy over 2000 bolivars - compared to only VEF 863.8 during the survey. This rate is still far short of the black-market exchange rate whereby one US dollar will buy you over 7000 bolivars, and this is rising!

Egypt is another country that has experienced a roller-coaster ride in the last year. After floating the pound in November 2016, the value collapsed, before rebounding a little during the March survey period. Since the survey exchange rate was set, the Egyptian pound has fallen back again, losing almost 15% of its value against the euro, which will fuel further inflation but also lower cost of living indices for most assignees in the country.

Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan have also seen drops of more than 10% in the value of their currencies against the euro since the survey. 

On the other hand, the Mozambique metical has strengthened by more than 10% against the euro since the March 2017 survey, putting the exchange rate at a similar level to a year ago. This could raise future indices significantly for assignees in the country.

ECA’s interim surveys

We are currently undertaking interim surveys for the following countries due to high inflation expectations: Angola, Argentina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. The results will be available in July 2017.


ECA publishes Cost of Living data for more than 460 cities around the world. It is available from ECA in several forms: as part of a subscription in a calculator which allows you to experiment with different types of index and review the outputs; in reports, providing background detail for specific indices; and as part of the Build-up Calculator for performing balance-sheet calculations. Cost of living data is also pre-populated in ECAEnterprise, our Assignment Management System, and in our Net-to-Net Calculator.

  Please contact us to speak to a member of our team directly.

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