World Cost of Living July 2009: Tokyo returns to the top position and Dublin ranks 25th of 143 in the Mercer 2009 Cost of Living city rankings, dropping 9 places from 2008.The decline of rental and food prices in Dublin, coupled with the fall in the value of the euro against the US dollar, has caused Dublin to drop down in the rankings. Noel O'Connor, Senior Consultant at Mercer, commented: “As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year many currencies, including the Euro and British pound, have weakened considerably against a strong US dollar causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings.”
Tokyo has knocked Moscow off the top spot to become the world's most expensive city for expatriates according to the Mercer survey. Osaka is in 2nd position, up 9 places since last year, followed by Moscow in 3rd place. Geneva climbs to 4th position and Hong Kong moves up to 5th. Johannesburg in South Africa is the least expensive city in the ranking.
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. For example, a large fast food hamburger meal can cost up to €7.15 in Dublin compared to €2.68 in Beijing.
The data is used to help multinational companies and governments to determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.
O'Connor also noted: “With significant exposure to multiple economies and currencies, multinational companies continue to be greatly affected by the financial crisis. The cost of expatriate programmes is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations and inflation rates. It is important for multinational companies to continuously review their compensation packages and ensure they are in line with the rest of the market.”
Moscow remains the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates in 3rd place. However, a dramatic depreciation of the rouble against the US dollar has led to a sharp fall in the city's index score compared to 2008 (115.4 in 2009 V's 142.4 in 2008). The next European cities in the ranking are Geneva and Zurich in 4th and 6th place, up from 8th and 9th respectively.
European cities have experienced some of this year's steepest falls in the ranking, with Warsaw plummeting from 35th to 113th and Glasgow (129th place) and Birmingham (125th place) in the UK falling 60 and 59 places respectively. German and Spanish cities all fell between eight and 11 places, whereas cities in Sweden, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary all fell between 36 and 48 places. “As most European currencies have weakened against the dollar it has become more costly for companies based in this region to send expatriates and their families to US cities,” said Mr. O'Connor.
Oslo and London, both previously in the top 10, are now in 14th and 16th place respectively. “The decline of rental prices in both London and Oslo, coupled with the fall in the value of British pound and Norwegian krone against the US dollar, have caused these cities to plummet in the ranking,” said O'Connor.
New York remains the highest ranking city in the region and has also joined the global top 10 list this year, jumping from 22nd to 8th place. Los Angeles is up 32 places to 23rd and Washington is up 41 places to 66th. Winston Salem is the cheapest US city surveyed, ranked at 126. All cities in the US have experienced a rise in this year's ranking due to the strengthening of the US dollar.
Canadian cities have slipped down the index with its highest ranking city Toronto down 31 places to 85th. Ottawa drops 36 places to 121st and Montreal is now in 103rd place, down from 72nd in 2008.
In 15th place and up 74 places from 2008, Caracas in Venezuela is the top ranking city in South America. Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro have experienced a reverse move, plummeting from 25th to 72nd and 31st to 73rd respectively. Buenos Aires has climbed 26 to reach 112th place. “Although the Argentine peso has lost value against the US dollar, the high inflation rate observed on goods and services have caused Buenos Aires to rise in the rankings,” said O'Connor
Tokyo moves up one place in the ranking to become the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally. The Japanese yen has strengthened considerably against the US dollar which also lifts Osaka into 2nd place from 11th in 2008. Hong Kong follows in 5th place and Singapore has moved up three places to reach 10th. In 140th place, Karachi continues to be the least costly city in this region – up one place from last year.
Australia and New Zealand
Cities in this region have taken a significant plunge in the ranking following a dramatic depreciation of the Australian and New Zealand dollars against the US dollar. Sydney remains the most expensive city for expatriates in this region but has dropped from 15th to 66th. Melbourne follows in 92nd, down from 36th. Auckland has moved down to 138th place from 78th and Wellington follows in 139th down from 93rd.