Tokyo Again World's Most Expensive City

June 14, 2004 ( - New York City may be the most expensive city in the United States, but across the globe the Big Apple is not even in the top 10.

Topping the list of the world’s most expensive cities is perennial cash sink Tokyo, followed by London, which made a huge jump from number seven last year, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s 2004 Cost-of-Living Survey. Rounding out the world’s top 10 are:

  • Moscow
  • Osaka
  • Hong Kong
  • Geneva
  • Seoul
  • Copenhagen
  • Zurich
  • St. Petersburg.

It is not until 12 th that you come to a city in North America (New York), which fell from number 10 last year, attributed by Mercer international consultant Rebecca Powers to the fluctuations of the dollar, particularly when compared to European, Canadian and Asian Pacific currencies. In fact, all U.S. cities on the list lost ground this year, while our neighbor to the north, Canada, saw its cities rise on the list. After New York, other U.S. cities on the list, and their ranking in the world, include Los Angeles (27), Chicago (35) and San Francisco (38). By comparison, Toronto tops the Canadian cities at 89 th , followed by Vancouver (96), Montreal (113), Calgary (114) and Ottawa (124).

While currency devaluations may have driven down cost-of-living in North America, they have significantly dropped the rankings of South America, as Mercer found since the devaluation of the Argentinean currency in 2002 and the subsequent financial crisis, cities in Latin America have become among the cheapest in the survey. Asuncion, Paraguay is the least expensive city globally at position 144. Other cheap cities include Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Bogotá in places 143, 141, and 139, respectively. At the other extreme, Lima in Peru is the most expensive city in Latin America at position 118.

Conversely, strong currencies have significantly boosted the scores of cities in Australia and New Zealand. Sydney is the most expensive city in the region, rising from 67 th place in 2003 to 20 th place this year. Other high-scoring cities in Australia include Melbourne (67) and Brisbane (87). Auckland is the costliest city in New Zealand ranking 80 th .

Curious where other cities fall on the list? A copy of the top 144 cites is available here .