In the latest survey by Mercer on Cost of Living Index for Expats, there were some surprises. Bracketed are their positions last year:
1 (2) Tokyo
2 (11) Osaka
3 (1) Moscow
4 (8) Geneva
5 (6) HK
6 (9) Zurich
7 (7) Copenhagen
8 (22) New York
9 (20) Beijing
10 (13) Singapore
Tokyo overtook Moscow as the most expensive city for expatriates, with the Russian capital city slipping to third spot but still maintaining its lead as the most expensive European city. Johannesburg is the world's cheapest city.
The significant reshuffle of cities in this year's ranking is mainly due to considerable currency fluctuations worldwide. All the US cities have become more expensive, with New York City jumping to 8th place because of the stronger US dollar.
London, on the other hand, fell to 16th spot from third last year due to the decline of rental prices and the weaker British pound. European cities are cheaper to live in, with Warsaw, for example plummeting from the 35th to 113th spot. In Asia, Chinese cities are on the rise as the Chinese renminbi gained strength over others. Beijing, for instance, is in ninth place.
In Mercer's survey, New York is used as the base city for the index and scores 100 points so all cities are compared against New York and currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The 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.
p/s photos: snazzy signs for toilets