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Article by: Sam Orgill info@proactpartnership.com Published: 13/11/2008

For the third consecutive year, Moscow is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live in, according to the 2008 Cost of Living Survey from international consultancy Mercer. Tokyo is in second position climbing two places since last year, while London has dropped one place.

For the third consecutive year, Moscow is the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live in, according to the 2008 Cost of Living Survey from international consultancy Mercer. Tokyo is in second position climbing two places since last year, while London has dropped one place to rank third. Oslo climbs six places to 4th place and is followed by Seoul in 5th.

Mercer’s survey 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 and is viewed as the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey.

“Current market conditions have led to the further weakening of the US dollar which, coupled with the strengthening of the Euro and many other currencies, has caused significant changes in this year’s rankings,” explained Yvonne Traber, principal and research manager at Mercer. “Although the traditionally expensive cities of Western Europe and Asia still feature in the top 20, cities in Eastern Europe, Brazil and India are creeping up the list. Conversely, some locations such as Stockholm and New York now appear less costly by comparison.


London is the next European city in the ranking at 3rd place (125), down one from last year, while Oslo has jumped six places to rank 4th with a score of 118.3.

“Norwegian property prices were at an all-time high towards the end of last year after a 50% increase in the last five years,” noted Traber. “Coupled with the continuous strengthening of the Norwegian krone this has created a substantial increase in living costs for expatriates in Oslo.”

Other European cities in the global Top 10 include Copenhagen at 7th (117.2) and Geneva at 8th (115.8). Both cities have dropped one place from last year. Zurich remains in 9th place (112.7), whereas Milan climbs one to 10th place with a score of 111.3. Sofia, in Bulgaria, is again the least expensive European city for expatriates in 97th place (76.9), although the city has climbed 11 places in the overall ranking.

Several European cities have experienced a significant rise in the rankings this year, mainly as a result of local currency strengthening against the US dollar. For example, Prague has jumped from 49th to 29th place (score 96) and Warsaw is up to 35th place (score 95) compared to 67th in 2007. Istanbul has climbed 15 places to rank 23 (score 99.4) reflecting the Turkish lira’s significant appreciation against the US dollar as well as general price increases, especially for accommodation.

Middle East

Tel Aviv is again the most expensive city in the Middle East, positioned 14th (score 105) on the global list, up three places from 2007. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have dropped significantly this year, positioned at 52 (89.3) and 65 (85.7), respectively. Mercer puts this down to the UAE dirham being pegged to the US dollar.

North America

The only North American city to feature in this year’s top 50 is New York in 22nd place (score 100), dropping seven places in one year.

All other US cities have also experienced a significant decline in the rankings. For example, Los Angeles has moved from 42nd to 55th place (87.5), Miami from 51st to 75th place (82) and Washington, DC, from 85th to 107th place (74.6).

In 54th place (88.1), jumping 28 places from last year, Toronto is the most expensive city for expatriates in Canada. All other Canadian cities in the survey have experienced similar rises, with Vancouver moving from 89th to 64th (85.8), Calgary from 92nd to 66th (85.4) and Montréal from 98th to 72nd with a score of 83.

South America

The two top-ranking cities in South America are São Paulo in 25th place (97) and Rio de Janeiro in 31st place (95.2), jumping 37 and 33 places, respectively. The Brazilian real appreciated nearly 18% against the US dollar last year, causing these Brazilian cities to rocket up the list. Another high-riser in this region is Caracas, jumping 40 places from 129th to 89th (79.3). High inflation in Venezuela has caused a sharp increase in the price of food and household products.

South America also has some of the lowest ranking cities globally. Asunción is the least expensive city for the sixth consecutive year (52.5), followed by Quito in Ecuador in 142nd (54.6), Buenos Aires in 138th (62.7) and Montevideo in 136th (63.2).


Tokyo is the costliest Asian city, in 2nd place (127), two places up since last year. Seoul follows in 5th place (117.7) and Hong Kong closely after in 6th with a score of 117.6. Singapore ranks 13th and holds a score of 109.1. Karachi continues to be the least costly city in this region, in 141st place with a score of 54.7.

In contrast, certain cities in this region have experienced significant falls in the ranking. Some examples are Jakarta falling from 55th to 82nd place (80.5) and Bangkok dropping from 95th to 105th place with a score of 75.1. In Vietnam, Hanoi drops 35 places to rank 91 (79) and Ho Chi Minh City drops 40 places to rank 100th (76.3), mainly because the Vietnamese dong has remained stable against the US dollar and so has pushed these cities down on the list.

Sydney continues to be the most expensive city for expatriates in this region, moving up six places in the overall ranking to reach 15th place (104.1). Melbourne follows in 36th place (94.2), jumping 28 places and Perth climbs 31 places to reach ranking number 53 (88.5).

This article is courtesy of www.opp.org.uk


External Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=181

Article Link: http://www.property-partnership.com/overseas-property-guides/overseas-property-guide.cfm?id=181

Please contact the author at info@proactpartnership.com for more information.


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