The cost of living in Auckland and Wellington has jumped significantly in just a year.
All New Zealand cities jumped in the Mercer annual global cost of living survey.
Auckland moved in ranking to spot 61 from 98 the year earlier, while Wellington ranked in 86th place, up from 123 the year before.
The capital of Angola, Luanda, was ranked as this year's most expensive city to live, driven by the cost of goods and security, followed by Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich and Singapore. Other cities on the list of the top 10 costliest cities include Seoul, Geneva, Shanghai, New York and Swiss city Bern.
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Mercer Insights leader Simon Kennedy said New Zealand's jump in global ranking was not necessarily bad news.
"Eight of the top 15 most expensive cities for expats are in Asia, which means New Zealand could be more cost-effective and attractive for businesses to send employees on international assignments, particularly those doing business in the Asia Pacific region," he said.
Instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services contributed to the overall cost of doing business in today's global environment, he said.
Daily spending on rental accommodation, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment were used to determine the global ranking for each city.
The capital of Tunisia was found to be the world's cheapest city to live for expats, followed by Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Skopje in Macedonia.
Despite rising costs, New Zealand continues to attract international talent, he said.
Most expensive cities to live in
2. Hong Kong
9. New York City