Istanbul leaps in most expensive cities for international workers ranking

Istanbul leaped 55 ranks in a year, becoming the 130th most expensive city for expatriates, according to consulting company Mercer’s 2024 data. The province was one of the five globally where cost-of-life increased most dramatically in a year. 

Duvar English

According to international consulting company Mercer’s 2024 survey covering 226 cities, Istanbul ranked among the top five cities where the cost of living increased the most this year.

The leap in rankings reflects the double-digit inflation that has persisted for five consecutive years in the country. 

In 2024, Istanbul climbed 55 spots to become the 130th most expensive city for expatriates. The capital province of Ankara also rose 13 places to rank 208th, according to reporting by the daily Sözcü. 

The report highlighted that Istanbul was ranked the third city with the highest increase in the cost of living for expatriates, following Accra, Ghana, which jumped 80 spots, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which rose 56 spots compared to 2023. 

Albanian capital Tirana and Egyptian capital Cairo came fourth and fifth. 

The study also examined how prices of specific product categories varied from city to city, with Istanbul and Ankara topping the list for rent increases. Rents in Istanbul surged by 301%, while in Ankara, tenants faced an average increase of 141%. 

After Istanbul and Ankara, Dubai saw the highest rent inflation at 21%, whereas rents in Tel Aviv, Israel, decreased by 22% over the past year.

Regarding other products, the price of a dozen eggs rose the most in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by 403%, while Istanbul's increase of 48% was twice the global average. The price of one liter of olive oil globally increased by 58.6%, but in Istanbul, it soared by 144.5%. 

Hong Kong remained the most expensive city for expatriates, followed by Singapore. Swiss cities Zurich, Geneva, and Basel completed the top five.

Istanbul ranked second globally in price increases for various products, from coffee to jeans, competing with Buenos Aires in terms of living costs. The price of a cup of coffee in Istanbul increased by 134.8%, 8.5 times more than the global average. Haircut prices rose by 12.6% worldwide, while in Istanbul, they surged by 98.3%.

A liter of gasoline became 109.3% more expensive in Istanbul, compared to the global average increase of 20.3% across the 226 cities surveyed. Istanbul also ranked second globally for jeans inflation. While the price of jeans increased by 20.2% worldwide and 385% in Buenos Aires, they became 40% more expensive in Istanbul.