Cost of Living – Europe July 2012

Zurich remains the most expensive place to live in Europe based on the overall cost of living, followed by Geneva and Moscow. The worlds most expensive place to live, based on the overall cost of living as at July 2012, encompassing all cost of living baskets is Hong Kong having overtaken Tokyo to top the latest international cost of living rankings.

Zurich has an overall cost of living index of 137.12 and Moscow 120.96 compared to Hong Kong with an overall cost of living index of 149.14, followed by Tokyo with 142.12. The overall index is comprised of 13 different basket groups. The assumption using the overall index is that everything is paid from the salary package. In addition, the cost of living calculations are weighted according to typical monthly international expatriate spending patterns. The Household Accommodation Basket for example, has a weighting of 30%, while the Groceries Basket has a weighting of 16.5%. That means that an international expatriate who, for example, earns 10,000 would typically spend 3,000 (30% of 10,000) on housing and 1,650 on groceries.

Zurich and Geneva are particularly expensive for groceries, restaurants meals out, hotels and transport. For example a cappuccino costs around 4.20 EUR / 5.30 USD in Zurich compared to 4.40 USD in Moscow, 2.35 GBP / 3.70 USD in London and 3.60 USD in New York. A litre of petrol / gasoline costs around 1.60 EUR / 2.00 USD in Zurich compared to 0.95 USD in Moscow, 1.30 GBP / 2.04 USD in London and 1.02 USD in New York.

Moscow is Europe and the world’s most expensive place to live based on the cost of living excluding the housing, education, healthcare and transport baskets, followed in turn by Zurich and Geneva. Many companies cover these costs on behalf of the employee while on international assignments.

Moscow is particularly expensive for furniture & appliances, clothing, groceries and miscellaneous items such as stationary, linen and general goods and services. Whilst none of these baskets are the most expensive in the world, the overall average is highest, pushing Moscow into the most expensive ranks. The housing, education, healthcare and transport baskets are not as expensive as the other high cost of living places which is why overall (inclusive of all baskets) Moscow is only ranked 15th most expensive. The Russian Ruble has weakend steadily over the past 4 years making imports expensive. The Russian Ruble recently plummeted to its lowest level in more than three years against the US dollar, mainly as a result of falling oil prices and European sovereign debt worries. In January 2008 1 ruble bought USD 0.041, in January 2011 this had dropped to 0.033 and it has recently dropped below 0.030. The impact on expatriates in Moscow is that imported goods have become a great deal costlier. To provide an assignee in Moscow, with a similar purchasing power to what they had in previous years, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary. The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in Moscow, or any other host country for that matter.

The rankings are based on data collected for 780 international locations, covering every country world-wide.

The cost of living (COL) data collected is representative of an expatriate lifestyle. The components of the COL data are local prices for fixed quantities of the same goods and services in each location, local inflation and exchange rates. Prices in each location are affected by availability (i.e. supply & demand) as well as local pricing regulations and taxes on goods and services (e.g.premiums on luxury brands). Local inflation is usually representative of local price increases which in turn impacts an expatriates purchasing power in the host country. The exchange rate impacts both the price of imports to the host country and the expatriate assignment salary calculation between the home and host country. The cost of living has a significant impact on the purchasing power of an expatriate’s salary package.

Cost of Living Rank – Europe Locations – Overall Cost of Living & All Baskets (Highest to Lowest):

  1. Switzerland,Zurich
  2. Switzerland, Geneva
  3. Russia, Moscow
  4. United Kingdom, London
  5. Liechtenstein, Vaduz
  6. Denmark, Copenhagen
  7. Norway, Oslo
  8. Monaco, Monaco
  9. Sweden, Stockholm
  10. France, Paris

For the full listing go here.

Cost of Living Rank – Europe Locations – Excluding Housing, Education, Healthcare and Transport Baskets (Highest to Lowest):

  1. Russia, Moscow
  2. Switzerland, Zurich
  3. Switzerland, Geneva
  4. Denmark, Copenhagen
  5. Norway, Oslo
  6. Russia, Vladivostok
  7. Liechtenstein, Vaduz
  8. Russia, Kaliningrad
  9. Russia, St. Petersburg
  10. Russia, Nizhny Novgorod

For the full listing go here.

About’s Cost of Living Data’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 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’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 (30%): Housing rental, utilities, local rates and residential taxes.

9. Miscellaneous (3%): Stationary, Linen and general goods and services.

10. Personal Care (3%): Personal Care products and services.

11. Recreation & Culture (6%): Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Tickets.

12. Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels (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.

About 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 every country around the world as well as premium content calculators.

Founded in 2007,’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.

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About Xpatulator is a website that provides international cost of living information and calculators that can help you determine cost of living indexes, cost of living allowances, salary purchasing power and international assignment packages to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences.
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