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The world’s most expensive city

Moscow has been named the most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live in, according to the 2008 Cost of Living Survey from Mercer. The average price of a cup of coffee in the Russian capital has now exceeded $10 (£5).

Tokyo is in second position climbing two places since last year, while London has dropped one place to rank third. Oslo climbs six places to 4th place and is followed by Seoul in 5th.

Mercer’s survey covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 variables in each city including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is regarded as the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey.

‘Current market conditions have led to the further weakening of the US dollar which, coupled with the strengthening of the Euro and many other currencies, has caused significant changes in this year’s rankings,’ says Yvonne Traber, principal and research manager at Mercer. ‘Although the traditionally expensive cities of Western Europe and Asia still feature in the top 20, cities in Eastern Europe, Brazil and India are creeping up the list. Conversely, some locations such as Stockholm and New York now appear less costly by comparison.

London is the next European city in the ranking at 3rd place, down one from last year, while Oslo has jumped six places to rank 4th.

‘Norwegian property prices were at an all-time high towards the end of last year after a 50% increase in the last five years,’ says Ms Traber. ‘Coupled with the continuous strengthening of the Norwegian krone this has created a substantial increase in living costs for expatriates in Oslo.’

Other European cities in the global Top 10 include Copenhagen at 7th and Geneva at 8th. Both cities have dropped one place from last year. Zurich remains in 9th place, whereas Milan climbs one to 10th place.

Sofia, in Bulgaria, is again the least expensive European city for expatriates in 97th place, although the city has climbed 11 places in the overall ranking.

Tel Aviv is again the most expensive city in the Middle East, positioned 14th on the global list, up three places from 2007. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have dropped significantly this year, positioned at 52 and 65 , respectively. Mercer puts this down to the UAE dirham being pegged to the US dollar.

New York has fallen 7 places and is the only city to make it into the top 50 most expensive cities. All other US cities have experienced a significant decline.

Meanwhile, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the top-ranking cities in South America as a result of the Brazilian real appreciating against the US dollar. Asunción and Quito are the cheapest cities to live in for expats.

Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong are the most expensive Asian cities While Sydney is Australia’s costliest.

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