Americans abroad: What does it cost?

FOR Americans living overseas, costs can be extremely different depending upon where they are located, according to a recent analysis by Runzheimer International, a Rochester, Wis.-based management-consulting firm.

The equivalent cost in Hong Kong for housing, transportation, food, clothing, medical care, and recreation for a United States expatriate family of two with a $75,000 yearly income is $166,454. In Cairo, that lifestyle costs only $55,416.

These same costs in some other cities are as follows: Geneva, $84,599; Warsaw, $75,578; Mexico City, $75,282; Toronto, $51,076; and Tel Aviv, $55,644.

``Many individuals and families that move abroad independently without a large, generous `Mother' organization to sustain them more quickly adapt to local ways,'' says S. Enders Wimbush, a senior consultant in the international division at Runzheimer.

``They don't expect to replicate their American lifestyle, living like the local aristocracy in their place of assignment. Companies must learn to set the expatriates' expectations,'' Mr. Wimbush says.

He adds that more companies today are realizing that the attitude of ``expatriate as special species'' is outdated. Recent surveys by Runzheimer show that 52 percent of 114 international human-resource executives say expatriates are overcompensated.

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