U.S. Cities Move Down in Cost of Living Survey

June 29, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer.

Tokyo, Ndjamena in Chad, Moscow, and Geneva round out the top five. Karachi in Pakistan is ranked as the world’s least expensive city, with the survey finding Luanda is three times as costly as Karachi.  

In the United States, New York (27) is the most expensive city followed by Los Angeles (55). Washington ranks 111. The least expensive City included on the list from the United States is Winston-Salem, North Carolina (197).    

“The weakening of the U.S. Dollar against a number of other currencies, combined with a decrease in the cost of rental accommodation, has pulled U.S. cities down the rankings,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a Senior Researcher at Mercer, in a news release.  

Cities in Brazil are amongst the most expensive locations in the Americas with Sao Paulo (21) ranked as the most expensive city in both North and South America, as a result of the strengthening of the Brazilian Real against the U.S. Dollar, according to the news release. In South America, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro (29) is the second most expensive city followed by Havana (45) in Cuba, Colombia’s Bogota (66) and Brazil’s capital, Brasilia (70). Buenos Aires ranks 161. Nicaragua’s Managua (212), Bolivia’s La Paz (211) and Asuncion (204) in Paraguay were the least expensive cities in South America.  

Mexico City (166) is the most expensive city in Mexico, while the cheapest is Monterrey (193). Vancouver (75) is the most expensive Canadian city followed by Toronto (76) and Montreal (98). Ottawa (136) is Canada’s least expensive city.  

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.   

New York is used as the base city for the index and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expats – plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. 

Cost of Living around the Globe  

After Moscow, Geneva, Zurich (8), and Copenhagen (10), the most expensive cities in Europe are Oslo (11) in Norway, Milan (15) in Italy, London and Paris (both 17), and Bern (22) in Switzerland, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer. The least expensive city in Europe is Tirana (200) in Albania, followed by Macedonia’s Skopje (197), Sarajevo (196) in Bosnia Herzegovina, Minsk (192) in Belarus and Belfast (182) in the UK.    

Tel Aviv (19) is the most expensive city in the Middle East, followed by Abu Dhabi (50) and Dubai (55). Tripoli (186) in Libya is the least expensive Middle Eastern location followed by Jeddah (181) in Saudi Arabia and Muscat (I76) in Oman.   

For the first time, the ranking of the world’s top 10 most expensive cities includes three African urban centres: Luanda (1) in Angola, Ndjamena (3) in Chad and Libreville (7) in Gabon, reflecting the increasing economic importance of this region across all business sectors, Mercer said. After Luanda, Ndjamena, and Libreville, the region’s most expensive cities are Victoria (13) in the Seychelles, Niamey (23) in Niger and Dakar (32) in Senegal. In South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town rank 151 and 171, respectively. At the bottom of the ranking, Addis Ababa (208) in Ethiopia is the cheapest African city followed by Windhoek (205) and Gaborone (203) in Namibia and Botswana, respectively.  

In Asia Pacific, two Japanese cities, Tokyo (2) and Osaka (6), are the region’s most expensive cities. Other highly ranked Asian cities are Hong Kong (8), Singapore (11), Seoul (14), Beijing (16), Nagoya (19) in Japan, Shanghai (25) and Taipei (78). A total of seven Chinese cities appeared on the 2010 rankings, highlighting the increased commercial importance to multi-nationals of locations other than just Beijing Shanghai and Hong Kong, Mercer said.    

New Delhi (85) is India’s most expensive city followed by Mumbai (89) and Bangalore (190). Elsewhere, Jakarta in Indonesia ranks 94, followed by Vietnam’s Hanoi and Thailand’s Bangkok (both at 121) and Kuala Lumpur (138) in Malaysia. Pakistan’s Islamabad (212) and Karachi (214) are the region’s two least expensive cities.    

Sydney (24) is Australia’s most expensive city followed by Melbourne (33) and Brisbane (55) while Adelaide (90) is the country’s least expensive city. Auckland (149) is the most expensive city in New Zealand while Wellington (163) is the cheapest. The Australian Dollar and the New Zealand Dollar have strongly strengthened against the U.S. Dollar, which has moved the cities up in the ranking, according to the news release.   

Individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports are produced for each city surveyed. For further information or to purchase copies of the city reports, visit www.mercer.com/costofliving2010 or call Client Services, Warsaw on +48 22 434 5383.