The Angolan capital Luanda is the most expensive city for corporate expats, according to a study Tuesday which includes three African cities in the top 10 for the first time.
Tokyo is second and Moscow and Geneva are also among the most costly cities in the world. At the other end of the scale Pakistan's second city Karachi is the cheapest, according to consultants Mercer.
In the Middle East, Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in 19th spot followed by Abu Dhabi in 50th place and Dubai in 55th, while Tripoli is the cheapest at 186th, followed by Jeddah and Muscat in 181th and 176th place.
"African cities now figure prominently, reflecting the growing economic importance of the region to global companies across all business sectors," said Nathalie Constantin-Metral, in charge of compiling the annual survey.
After Luanda in first place, the Chadian capital N'Djamena is in third place followed by Libreville in Gabon in seventh place - the biggest number of Africa capitals in a top 10 usually dominated by Asian and European cities.
"Many people assume that cities in the developing world are cheap but this isn't necessarily true for expatriates working there," said Constantin-Metral, saying firms have to provide staff with the same standard of living as at home.
Three Asian cities join the African trio in the top 10 - as well as Tokyo in second, Japan is also represented by Osaka in 6th place, while Hong Kong is in 8th position.
Singapore is not far behind in 11th, followed by Beijing in 16th, Nagoya in Japan in 19th, Shanghai in 25th and Taipei in 78th - while in India, Delhi is the most expensive on 85, followed by Mumbai on 89 and Bangalore on 190.
In Australia, Sydney is in 24th spot followed by Melbourne on 33 and Brisbane on 55, while Adelaide is the cheapest on 90th. New Zealand has Auckland on 149th, while Wellington is the cheapest in 163rd spot.
"At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, residential property prices in many Asian countries rose as the economic environment began to stabilise and demand for good expat housing increased," said Constantin-Metral.
"The strengthening of the Australian and New Zealand dollar against the US dollar also made Australian and New Zealand cities more costly for expatriates coming from the US," she added.
Moscow is the most expensive European city in 4th spot, ahead of Geneva in 5th, Zurich in 8th and Copenhagen in 10th, according to the rankings based on a survey conducted in March this year. London is joint 17th with Paris.
The study covers 214 cities across five continents, comparing costs of 200 items including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.