Rental prices in Cayman are on the rise and considered expensive by most, but an international comparison shows they are still moderate compared to other international financial centers.

Research by RENTCafé, a U.S. apartment search website, places Cayman behind 18 of the top 30 international financial centers in terms of apartment rental costs.

The study, which compares average rents for one-bedroom apartments in the world’s top financial hubs, features New York City as the most expensive place to live, with an average rent of $3,680, about twice the cost of a similar apartment in London.

One-bedroom apartments on Grand Cayman average $1,680 per month, according to data collected by RENTCafé.

Casablanca has the most affordable rental market of the surveyed financial centers, with average rent of $820, about half the cost in Cayman and four times less than the cost of an apartment in New York City.

The top three most expensive rental market examined by the report are in the United States, with San Francisco and Boston trailing New York.

In Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are the most expensive places to rent, in fourth and seventh place, respectively, with average monthly rents of $2,740 and $2,050.

In addition to the Swiss high-end markets of Geneva (5) and Zurich (6), Cayman also trails the Chinese centers of Beijing and Shanghai, which are in 14th and 15th place on the list.

Naturally, the different rental costs are predominantly a function of average salaries and in some cases a reflection of different levels of infrastructure available in the various centers.

The most expensive U.S. cities fall well behind the top three cities in terms of infrastructure – Singapore, Frankfurt and Munich – as well as most major European cities, a March 2017 survey by human resources consulting firm Mercer found.

San Francisco (29) is the highest-ranking U.S. city, followed by Boston (35) and New York (44). Frankfurt and Munich are at the bottom of the list when it comes to rental costs, with average rents significantly lower than in Cayman at $1,350 and $1,050 per month.

Infrastructure and quality of life

Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer, said a city’s infrastructure, or rather the lack thereof, can considerably affect the quality of life on a daily basis.

“Cities that rank high in the city infrastructure list provide a combination of top-notch local and international airport facilities, varied and extended coverage through their local transportation networks, and innovative solutions such as smart technology and alternative energy,” Parakatil said.

“Most cities now align variety, reliability, technology, and sustainability when designing infrastructure for the future.”

Mercer incorporated the infrastructure ranking into a quality of living survey that takes accounts of infrastructure, rental cost, health and education services, recreation and the natural environment. In the survey, Austria’s capital, Vienna, ranked first for the eighth consecutive year and other European cities dominate the top 10.

Zurich is in second place, with Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and Basel in 10th place. The only non-European cities in the top 10 are Auckland (3) and Vancouver (5).

London ranks sixth for infrastructure and 40th for quality of living.

Cayman was not included in the Mercer survey, but Nassau in the Bahamas ranked 113th out of 231 cities in terms of quality of living. In 2013, an HSBC expat survey showed Cayman as the fourth most popular country based on economic and quality of life factors.

RENTCafé derived the list of financial centers from Z/Yen’s Global Financial Centers Index and collected the average rents for one-bedroom apartments between 600 square feet and 999 square feet (55-85 square meters) in each of these 30 cities from several housing market data sources. They included Yardi Matrix for the U.S., Point2Homes for Canada and Global Property Guide for most international markets, with the exception of London (GOV.UK), Tokyo and Osaka (Utinokati), Hong Kong (HK Rating and Valuation Department) and Dubai (Bayut).