Japan at the top in cost of living

KATHMANDU: According to the World Cost of Living 2009, Tokyo returns to the top position and Dublin ranks 25th of 143 in the Mercer 2009 Cost of Living city rankings, dropping nine 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 second position, up nine places since last year, followed by Moscow in third place. Geneva climbs to fourth position and Hong Kong moves up to fifth.

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.

The data is used to help multinational companies and governments 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.”

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 second place from 11th in 2008.

Hong Kong follows in fifth 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.

Moscow remains the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates in third 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 fourth and sixth place, up from eighth and ninth 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 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.