DUBLIN is the most expensive city in the eurozone to base expatriate employees of multinationals - including workers who may find it easier to work from home in cheaper locations after the Covid crisis.
That is a finding from today's 2020 Cost of Living Survey by consulting firm Mercer. The annual index is influential because it is used by companies to calculate tax-free allowances known as cost of living adjustments which are paid - in addition to salary - to staff assigned to comparatively expensive locations such as Dublin.
Mercer said Dublin's rents - and a post-Covid emphasis on working remotely - could make the Irish capital a less attractive option for basing staff once the virus threat is contained.
"Expat employees are a special case. They can be based in many locations, but it's an open question as to whether the push for remote working will have an effect on the flow of expat assignees to Irish operations," said Noel O'Connor, senior consultant at Mercer Ireland.
Dublin ranks as the 46th most expensive business city in the world, down three places from last year - but still ahead of all other business centres in the eurozone.
Dublin ranks as more expensive than Milan (47th), Paris (50th), Amsterdam (64th), Frankfurt (76th) and Luxembourg (83rd).
Mr O'Connor noted that Facebook and other international tech firms were mulling whether to cut employees' location-based compensation if they move out of high-cost centres to work remotely. The same may apply for employers who permit staff to shift work location from Dublin to less expensive locations within Ireland.
"One of the major factors influencing Dublin's ranking is the cost of rental accommodation," he said. "Rental accommodation is often the biggest cost for companies when placing an employee on assignment."
Dublin is still relatively good value versus other European centres, topped by three Swiss cities: Zurich (4th), Bern (8th) and Geneva (9th), all higher than a year ago. London comes 19th, up four spots from 2019.
Those looking for value on this island can go up the road to Belfast - in 149th place out of 209 cities globally, still nine notches higher than last year. The cheapest business cities of all are Windhoek, Namibia, and Tunis, Tunisia.
Hong Kong retains its status as the world's most expensive metropolis, while a far less-travelled spot - Ashgabat in Turkmenistan - has shot from seventh to second, dropping Tokyo to third place.
Mercer said many eurozone cities, including Dublin, dropped slightly in the global rankings from 2019 only because of the prevailing strength of the US dollar, the currency generally paid to American multinationals' employees assigned overseas.
Each city's rating reflects the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Brexit could mean more expats relocate to Dublin.
"Organisations with EU headquarters in the UK may need to look for alternative EU locations," Mr O'Connor said. "Dublin is likely to be on the shortlist of preferred options."