Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The world's most (and least) expensive cities

Every year, Mercer Consulting compares the cost of items such as housing, food, transportation and the like in over 140 cities worldwide and issues a list of the most expensive (and least expensive) cities in the world. Usually, Tokyo is at the top of the list, which is no surprise to anybody who's ever been there (my credit card is still smouldering from the dinner my brother and I had at that yakitori restaurant in Tokyo's Roppongi district last fall). This year, however, Moscow rose to the top of the list.

The list is based on New York City; that city is given a cost index of 100 and every other city is ranked relative to it. This means that the list is affected by the fluctuation of local currencies relative to the dollar; the yen fell relative to the dollar over the last year, while the ruble remained stable, and the result is that Moscow nudged Tokyo out of the top spot and into third place. Seoul is the second most-expensive city in the world, Hong Kong is fourth and London is fifth. New York is in tenth place and is the most expensive city in the United States.

On the other end of the scale is the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion. It ranks as the least expensive city in the world, just below other South American capitals such as Montevideo and Buenos Aires (note to self - plan trip to Argentina ASAP). I can remember the days when Quito was consistently the cheapest city on this list. That was before dollarization, however, and the days of the seventy-five cent lunches I enjoyed as a teenager living in Ecuador are long gone.

In past years, Mercer has released the entire list to the public. However, this time they've only released a .pdf file of the top fifty most expensive cities. It's worth noting that Houston doesn't make the cut. That's probably due to the low cost of housing we enjoy here relative to other parts of the county (and world, for that matter).

I expect Tory to begin crowing about this fact any minute now.

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