The 20 Most Expensive Cities for Americans to Relocate

You might be surprised by the cost of relocating to these domestic and international cities according to relocation experts Movinga.

August 12, 2019
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20: Seattle

Relocation experts Movinga have broken down the relative cost for American expats to move to a new city, whether they are relocating domestically or abroad and have come up with a ranking of the most expensive cities to relocate. Movinga used as their guidelines the most popular cities for expats based on job opportunity and economic growth. Their study includes a variety of factors in the cost of relocating in the first three months: visas (if moving to a foreign city), initial rental costs, living expenses (transportation, food, drink), internet, and storage fees for belongings while new residents search for a permanent home. Costs were broken down for an individual and for a family. So how do the top cities for expats rank in terms of cost?

Not surprisingly, the city known for incredible quality of life and as Amazon's headquarters, Seattle was ranked the 20th most expensive city for Americans to relocate in the Movinga study.

Single person relocation: $8,419

Family relocation: $17,105

From: Windermere Real Estate and Luxury Portfolio International®

19: Doha, Qatar

As the world becomes more globally connected and international companies increasingly look further afield for talent to fill their ranks, Americans are accepting jobs around the world. One of those destinations known for attracting both migrants from Asia who often work in construction and constitute the country's hidden, and often exploited, work force, and white collar worker expats who come for the region's high salaries is Doha the capital and most populous city in Qatar. Amazingly, only 12 percent of residents of the country are Qatari citizens.

Single person relocation: $8,567

Family relocation: $18,711

18: Miami

With its gorgeous beaches and international flavor, Miami is an appealing city for American workers looking to relocate to a diverse, cosmopolitan environment.

Single person relocation: $8,576

Family relocation: $14,294

17: Copenhagen, Denmark

Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavik are some of the most expensive cities for Americans to relocate to because of their high cost of living, although high relative salaries often compensate. Expats who move to these Nordic cities will find the majority of citizens speak English, a fact that can ease the transition to a foreign city.

Single person relocation: $8,793

Family relocation: $16,329

16: Oslo, Norway

Like other Nordic cities, the cost of living in Oslo is high, but the quality of life means expats who relocate to the city find ample reasons to relish their time there.

Single person relocation: $9,077

Family relocation: $17,081

15: London, England

With its English-speaking population and many affinities with American culture, Great Britain is a natural destination for American expats working abroad. In addition, with Brexit affecting the value of the pound against the U.S. dollar, now is an especially good time for Americans to relocate, since they will get more value for their money.

Single person relocation: $9,167

Family relocation: $21,395

14: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.'s culture of politics, non-profits and think tanks means it is a natural relocation destination for American workers. Knowing how the cost of relocating stacks up against other U.S. cities will help those thinking of moving to the nation's capital weigh the benefits.

Single person relocation: $9,327

Family relocation: $17,013

13: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bloemenmarkt, one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Amsterdam, is the world’s only floating flower market, located along the city’s southern canal. Amsterdam's charm and ample alternative transportation options make it a remarkably liveable city.

Single person relocation: $9,472

Family relocation: $17,733

12: Los Angeles

This center of the entertainment industry, Los Angeles also boasts a number of top-notch colleges and a remarkable food scene. But the city also features some very high home prices that make it one of the most expensive places to buy a home in the country. Real estate tracker CoreLogic in 2019 listed the median home sale price in the city at $615,000.

Single person relocation: $9,624

Family relocation: $16,763

11: Singapore, Singapore

The standard of living in this cosmopolitan Asian city is very high, and so are the costs. The city some have called "the Paris of the East" has many expats working in the education, manufacturing and finance realms for an average expat wage of $202,200 according to a 2019 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey.

Single person relocation: $9,871

Family relocation: $20,037

10: Melbourne, Australia

Australia's warm climate is a big draw for expats as well as its laid-back, friendly residents both of which mean the country offers great quality of life.

Single person relocation: $9,988

Family relocation: $24,873

9: Reykjavik, Iceland

Though Iceland has endured some financial challenges in recent years the quality of life when it comes to longevity and work-life balance make up for things like the expense of products in the country and a relative lack of availability of goods compared to the United States.

Single person relocation: $10,204

Family relocation: $16,375

8: Boston

The wealth of incredible colleges and universities located in Boston make it a mecca for academics looking to expand their horizons.

Single person relocation: $11,104

Family relocation: $20,738

7: Zurich, Switzerland

Excellent opportunities for foreign workers as well as an exceptional quality of life make Switzerland and especially the world banking and finance destination of Zurich, a popular choice for expats.

Single person relocation: $11,534

Family relocation: $19,200

6: Hong Kong, HKSAR

Hong Kong has a vibrant expat community and offers plenty of work opportunities for talented workers moving from other countries.

Single person relocation: $11,660

Family relocation: $18,577

5: Geneva, Switzerland

Swiss expat salaries are well above the global average and the country's political and economic stability make it even more of a draw.

Single person relocation: $11,762

Family relocation: $20,341

4: Sydney, Australia

Though Sydney has a high cost of living, it also offers high salaries and is known for its good work-life balance.

Single person relocation: $12,039

Family relocation: $28,649

3: New York City

The cost to relocate to New York City is a whopping $12,041 for an individual and $20,070 for a family. But being in the heart of this bustling cultural capital of the world means the price of admission may be worth it when you consider the remarkable options available in fashion, food, art and music.

2: Dublin, Ireland

Why is Dublin so expensive for Americans relocating? Big tech companies like Google and Facebook have set up offices in the city which has experienced a rate of inflation that has garnered Dublin comparisons to San Francisco. Dublin currently has some of the highest rental prices in the Western world.

Single person relocation: $12,214

Family relocation: $20,817

1: San Francisco

Believe it or not, it is more expensive for Americans to relocate to San Francisco than it is to relocate to a host of foreign cities. The presence of big name tech giants like Apple and Facebook contribute to the high cost of living in San Francisco where a single person can expect to pay rent of $3,000 a month. According to Movinga a single person relocating to SF can expect to pay about $13,531 and a family can expect to pay $24,004.

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