Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2006
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Moscow has replaced Tokyo as the world's most expensive city, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the global leader for HR and related financial advice. Seoul is in second place, climbing three places since last year. Tokyo moves down two positions in the rankings to take third place, followed by Hong Kong. Asuncion in Paraguay remains the least expensive city in the survey.
With New York as the base city scoring 100 points, Moscow scores 123.9 and is nearly three times costlier than Asuncion, which has an index of 43.5.
Mercer's survey covers 144 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 is the world's most comprehensive cost-of-living survey and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.
"We have seen significant shifts in the cost-of-living rankings over the past few years, reflecting a changing global market. For many companies, it can now be more expensive to send employees to work in Russia or Korea than places like Japan or Switzerland which are often perceived to be more costly," commented Rebecca Powers, a Senior Consultant with Mercer's international business. She added: "More companies are now sending employees on expatriate assignments, so there is a greater need to keep pace with the cost of living changes. Employers need to be proactive in managing their expatriate programs to ensure they receive a proper return on their investment and employees are compensated fairly."
There have been some significant changes in the rankings this year which are primarily due to exchange rate fluctuations, in particular the strengthening of the US dollar.
Moscow is the most expensive city in Europe and in the rest of the world, with a score of 123.9. "Steep accommodation costs have contributed to the city's high ranking, as the recent property boom has driven up rental prices for expatriates," said Anna Krotova, Senior Researcher at Mercer.
London is the second most expensive city in Europe and ranks in 5th position (score 110.6). "While prices have actually increased slightly over the last year, the strengthening of the dollar against the pound means London has dropped two places since last year," said Ms. Krotova.
Other costly European cities include Geneva in 7th place (103), Copenhagen in 8th (101.1) and Zurich in 9th (100.8) - all have been pushed down one place this year. Oslo remains in 10th place with a score of 100 while St. Petersburg is in 12th position (99.7).
New York remains the most expensive city in North America and climbs
three places to 10th position (score 100). Currency appreciation is the main reason for this, although price increases in fuel and certain consumer goods have also contributed to New York's rise in the rankings. Other high-ranking cities include Los Angeles in position 29 (86.7), San Francisco in 34th place (85) and Chicago in 38th position (84.1). Washington DC takes 83rd place (77). Winston Salem is the cheapest US city surveyed, ranked 124th (66.7).
"The strengthening of the US dollar against the European and other major currencies is a large contributor to the rise of most US cities in the rankings," commented Ms Powers.
Though still relatively inexpensive and benefiting from stable inflation, Canadian cities continue to move up the rankings due to the strength of the Canadian dollar. Toronto is the most expensive city in Canada and moves up from 82nd to 47th place (82.6). Ottawa remains the least expensive Canadian city but has climbed 32 places from 122nd to 90th (75.6).
Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the most expensive cities in Latin America moving up from 119th and 124th positions to 34th and 40th place respectively.
Three of the world's ten costliest cities are in Asia, with Seoul moving up from 5th to second place. While Tokyo has lost its title of the world most expensive city because of currency fluctuations between the Japanese Yen and the US dollar, it still ranks highly and takes third place. Hong Kong is in 4th position.
"Chinese cities have moved up slightly in the rankings as the value of the Yuan renminbi is now pegged to a number of currencies rather than just the US dollar," said Ms Krotova. Beijing is in position 14 (score 94.9) followed by Shanghai in 20th place (91.2).
****Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. For further information visit http://www.mercerhr.com/referencecontent.jhtml?idContent=1095320, or call Mercer Global Information Services in Geneva at +41 22 869 3000.