Well 2010 is already a memory and the first month of 2011 is almost behind us. Xpatulator.com® have completed the latest update of the cost of living, exchange rate and hardship data based on the data collected during the last 3 months of 2010, reported as at 1 January 2011.
Once again, Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world in which to live, out of 300 global locations. While Tokyo is average in terms of the cost of items such as education (ranked 144) and alcohol & tobacco (ranked 138), it is the most expensive place in the world for groceries, healthcare, and household accommodation costs. As the most expensive city in the world, Tokyo has an overall cost of living index of 158.4 (New York = 100). In comparison to the next 3 cities to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup (SWC) Tokyo is 38% more expensive than Rio de Janeiro (SWC 2014), 36% more expensive than Moscow (SWC 2018), and 65% more expensive than Doha (SWC 2022). That means that an expatriate earning USD$5,000 per month in Doha would need to earn USD$8,250 per month in Tokyo to enable them to have the same purchasing power, and therefore a similar standard of living as they had in Doha. The cost of living for an expatriate is affected by both the availability and prices, of goods and services representative of an expatriate lifestyle, local inflation, and the exchange rate between the home and host country. As a result the cost of living has a significant impact on an expatriate’s salary package.
Asia-Pacific has 4 of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. Tokyo is first and Hong Kong the third most expensive location in the world (and most expensive in greater China), whilst Osaka is the third most expensive city in Asia-Pacific (ranked 5 in the world), followed by Nagoya (ranked 9 in the world). Cities in mainland China remain relatively cheap, mainly due to the pegging of the Chinese Yuan to the US Dollar which has kept costs down. Within mainland China, Shanghai (ranked 19 in the world), and Beijing (ranked 126 in the world) are the most expensive locations. The cheapest city surveyed in China is Tianjin (ranked 284) with a cost of living index of just 61.4. The cheapest city in Asia-Pacific is Nuku’Alofa in Tonga (ranked 299) with a cost of living index of 53.1.
Most expensive cities in Asia-Pacific (Global rank in brackets)
1. Japan, Tokyo (1)
2. China, Hong Kong (3)
3. Japan, Osaka (5)
4. Japan, Nagoya (9)
5. Japan, Yokohama (13)
6. Australia, Sydney (17)
7. China, Shanghai (19)
8. Australia, Canberra (20)
9. Kiribati, South Tarawa (23)
South Asia is the least expensive region in the world for expatriates to live in. The most expensive city surveyed is Mumbai (ranked 109 in the world), followed by New Delhi (ranked 136), and Chennai (ranked 139). The cheapest city in South Asia is Thimphu in Bhutan (ranked 297).
Most expensive cities in South Asia (Global rank in brackets)
1. India, Mumbai (109)
2. India, New Delhi (136)
3. India, Chennai (139)
4. India, Calcutta (141)
5. Maldives, Male (147)
6. India, Hyderabad (149)
7. India, Bangalore (167)
8. Afghanistan, Kabul (208)
9. Bangladesh, Dhaka (263)
10.Pakistan, Lahore 278)
Europe’s most expensive cities are mostly those that are not on the Euro. The most expensive city in Europe is Geneva (ranked 4 in the world), followed by Zurich (ranked 6), making Switzerland the most expensive country in Europe. Zurich is followed by Oslo (ranked 8). Moscow is the world’s 10th most expensive city (4th in Europe) followed by Vaduz in Liechtenstein. The cheapest city in Europe is Tirana in Albania (ranked 283 in the world) with a cost of living index of 61.7.
Most expensive cities in Europe (Global rank in brackets)
1. Switzerland, Geneva (4)
2. Switzerland, Zurich (6)
3. Norway, Oslo (8)
4. Russia, Moscow (10)
5. Liechtenstein, Vaduz (12)
6. Denmark, Copenhagen (14)
7. United Kingdom, London (16)
8. France, Paris (21)
9. Monaco, Monaco (22)
10.Jersey, Saint Helier (24)
The Middle East’s most expensive city is Abu Dhabi (ranked 27 in the world), followed by Doha (ranked 49), and Manama (ranked 87). Dubai is the fourth most expensive city in the Middle East (ranked 89 in the world) with a cost of living index of 89.7. The cheapest city surveyed in the Middle East (and cheapest in the world) is Sanaa in Yemen (ranked 300 in the world) with a cost of living index of 49.7, half that of New York which has a cost of living index of 100.
Most expensive cities in the Middle East (Global rank in brackets)
1. United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi (27)
2. Qatar, Doha (49)
3. Bahrain, Manama (87)
4. United Arab Emirates, Dubai (89)
5. Israel, Jerusalem (102)
6. Lebanon, Beirut (138)
7. Palestinian Territories, West Bank (152)
8. Kuwait, Kuwait City (156)
9. Syria, Damascus (165)
10.Iran, Tehran (170)
The Americas most expensive city is Caracas, which is the world’s second most expensive city to live in for expatriates. Brazil has 3 of the 4 most expensive cities in the Americas. Sao Paulo (ranked 7 in the world), Rio de Janeiro (ranked 11) are followed by Brasilia (ranked 15). Nassau (ranked 25) is the fifth most expensive city, while New York (ranked 33) is the sixth most expensive city in the America’s and most expensive in the United States of America. The cheapest city to live in the Americas is La Paz in Bolivia (ranked 294 in the world). The cheapest city surveyed in the United States of America is Indianapolis Ind (ranked 285 in the world).
Most expensive cities in the Americas (Global rank in brackets)
1. Venezuela, Caracas (2)
2. Brazil, Sao Paulo (7)
3. Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (11)
4. Brazil, Brasilia (15)
5. Bahamas, Nassau (25)
6. USA, New York NY (33)
7. Canada, Toronto (37)
8. Falkland Islands, Stanley (42)
9. Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain (47)
10.Canada, Vancouver (54)
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Figures used in this report were taken from Xpatulator.com®’s cost of living database as at 1 January 2011. The above ranks are based on the overall cost of living index using all 13 basket groups with New York as the base city (Cost of living index = 100).
About Xpatulator.com®’s Cost of Living Data
Xpatulator.com®’s cost of living data is based on prices for the same quantity and quality of goods and services, representative of expatriate lifestyle, in each city. The data is collected and updated on a quarterly basis. The cost of living data is used by Xpatulator.com® clients to calculate salary purchasing power parity, cost of living allowances, and customized (i.e. clients can select their own base city) cost of living indexes for expatriate assignments online, using Xpatulator.com®’s 3 premium content calculators.
The 13 basket groups do not count equally and are weighted according to expatriate expenditure norms as follows (weighting percentage is in brackets):
1. Alcohol & Tobacco (2%): Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
2. Clothing (2.5%): Clothing and footwear products.
3. Communication (2%): Telephone, Internet, Mobile Contract and Calls.
4. Education (5%): Creche Fees, School Fees, College Fees, and Tertiary Study Fees.
5. Furniture & Appliances (5%): Furniture, household equipment and appliances.
6. Groceries (16.5%): Food, non-alcoholic beverages and cleaning materials.
7. Healthcare (5%): Doctor Consultation rates, Private Ward Rate, Prescription Medicine, and Private Medical Insurance Contributions.
8. Household Accommodation (30%): Housing rental, utilities, local rates and residential taxes.
9. Miscellaneous Items (3%): Stationary, Linen and general goods and services.
10. Personal Care (3%): Personal Care products and services.
11. Recreation and Culture (6%): Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Tickets.
12. Restaurants Meals Out and Hotel (2%): Dinner at Restaurant (non fast food), Hotel Rates, Take Away, Drinks & Snacks (fast Food).
13. Transport (18%): Public Transport, Vehicle Costs, Vehicle Fuel, Vehicle Insurance and Vehicle Maintenance.
Xpatulator.com® is the most comprehensive source of international cost of living information. We provide free international cost of living overviews and rank information covering 13 cost of living baskets and 300 global locations as well as 3 premium content calculators.
Founded in 2007, Xpatulator.com®’s mission is to organize the world’s cost of living indices, exchange rates and relative hardship indices and make it accessible and useful to all.