Tokyo tops list of most expensive cities
posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009 12:15 PM
Tokyo is officially the world’s most expensive city for expats, knocking Moscow off the top slot.
This will perhaps come as no surprise if you are a frequent visitor to the city, where you can expect to pay £4.50 for a cup of coffee.
Another Japanese city – Osaka – took second place, climbing nine places since last year. The reshuffle has pushed Moscow into third place. Geneva climbed four places to fourth position and Hong Kong moves up one to reach fifth.
The Cost of Living Survey from Mercer covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
It takes New York as the base city so currency fluctuations have shaken up the rankings this year.
Fancy moving to Warsaw?
Most European cities have moved down the ranks. Warsaw experienced the most dramatic change in fortunes, plummeting 78 places from 35th to 113th.
But London and Oslo, both previously in the top 10, have dropped 13 and 10 places respectively. London now ranks in 16th. Glasgow has dropped 60 places to come in at number 129. Birmingham has fallen 59 to 125th place.
“As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year we have observed significant fluctuations in most of the world’s currencies, which have had a profound impact on this year’s ranking,” explained Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at Mercer.
“Many currencies, including the euro and British pound, have weakened considerably against a strong US dollar causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings. The decline of rental prices both in Oslo and London have also caused these cities to plummet in the rankings.”
A two-bedroom luxury apartment in London now costs about £2,400 a month, according to the survey. It might be down on last year, but it’s still high, especially compared with Berlin at £1,064 and Prague at £935.
Moscow still Europe’s priciest
Moscow remains the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates, although a plunge in the rouble against the US dollar has led to a sharp fall in the city’s index score of 115.4 compared with 142.4 in 2008.
The cost of accommodation also started to drop at the end of last year, but it remains expensive. You would pay about £3,462 to rent a two bedroom apartment in Moscow. Tokyo is even more costly at £3,751.
Moving on to transport and it will come as no surprise to Londoners that the capital ranks as one of the most expensive cities for public transport. It costs £3 for a typical tube or bus ride, more than double the average.
But private transport is dearer on the Continent. A litre of unleaded fuel costs more than £1 in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Berlin. You would pay less than 50p in Moscow, Johannesburg, New York or Sydney.
If you’re out in Dublin and fancy a quick bite to eat, think carefully before heading to the nearest burger joint. Mercer’s survey shows the fast food staple costs a whopping £6.34 in Ireland’s capital.
If on the other hand you happen to be in Beijing, it’s only £2.38, or a mere £1.73 in Johannesburg. And if you want to buy a music CD, avoid Madrid (£18.59) and head to Buenos Aires where it costs £8.90.
Australasia slides down the ranks
Cities in Australia, New Zealand and India all have slipped down the rankings. Sydney dropped 51 places from 15th to 66th while Mumbai fell to 66th from 48th place, mainly due to currency fluctuations.
But the trend is reversed in the US, China, Japan and the Middle East, where cities have surged in the rankings. New York is a new entry in the top 10, rising from 22nd to 8th place. So is Beijing, now in 9th place, up from 20th in 2008.
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have made big jumps, moving from 52nd to 20th and 65th to 26th respectively. The rise is mainly because the UAE dirham is fixed to the US dollar, so it benefits from its relative strength.
Tel Aviv remains the most expensive city in the Middle East, although it is the only one in the region to move down in the ranking, from 14th to 17th.
The sharp decrease in the South African rand against the US dollar saw Johannesburg slip to bottom position, replacing Asuncion in Paraguay as the cheapest city. Johannesburg came out with an index score of 49.6, which makes it nearly three times cheaper than Tokyo at 143.7 points.
It costs just £624 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Johannesburg. If you want to buy a cup of coffee, you will need just £1.25. Try not to eat pasta, though. A kilo packet of spaghetti will set you back £3.21 – that’s more expensive than almost any European city.
By Naomi Caine (msn)