The survey by Mercer Human Resources Consulting measured the cost of 200 items such as housing, clothing and food in 143 cities on six continents. Russia’s capital, Moscow, has been named as the world’s most expensive city for expatriate staff to live, for the second year in a row.
The soaring prices in big cities are mainly linked to their reputation and the opportunities they can offer. A city can still look cheap by European standards but it’s very expensive for the locals and the nationals. In Morocco, Marrakesh has become the most expensive city. People with middle or low income can’t afford to get a house but simply a small flat whose mortgage can extend for 25 years. For a European, it still cheap as a high standing eighty square metre apartment in city centre can be acquired at $120,000. This is too much for the locals whose annual income in most cases doesn’t exceed $6,000
In the old city, houses are much more expensive as they are favoured by foreign buyers who prefer to live in the exotic atmosphere of the East. Now most of the locals can’t afford them as their price jumped a lot in the past years. One of the advantages of selling these houses to Europeans is that they restore them beyond recognition. Many of these houses were in a state of ruin. Because of their size, their poor owners couldn’t repair them. The old city retrieved its boom thanks to investment by the Europeans, mainly French. The houses have become guest houses.
The economic advantages are that the guest houses created employment on many levels. Local artefacts got revived in terms of building and furniture after the domination of industrialised items. Artisans have a source of living.
So Marrakesh remains expensive for its population while it is reasonably cheap for the Europeans, including those with a low income.
On my part, I wish to have the chance to live just in a small town or a village. Marrakesh has become congested, relatively polluted. What makes it charming for many is that in it, you can live in two separate worlds. There is the old city; called the medina, which extends over six square kilometres and the new city which doesn’t stop sprawling in all directions.
Maybe as the city is getting more and more international reputation and the increasing prestigious tourist projects, it may rank as one of the most expensive city, at least in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.