Tokyo has knocked Moscow off the top spot of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates.
According to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer, Osaka is in second position, up nine places from last year, whereas Moscow is now in third place. Geneva climbed four places to fourth position and Hong Kong moved up one to reach fifth. Johannesburg replaced Asuncion in Paraguay as the least expensive city in the ranking.
In Mercer’s survey, New York is used as the base city for the index and scores 100 points, all cities are compared against New York and currency movements are measured against the U.S. dollar. Tokyo scored 143.7 points and is nearly three times as costly as Johannesburg with an index score of 49.6.
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. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s most comprehensive cost of living surveys and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.
A significant reshuffle of cities can be observed in this year’s ranking, mainly due to considerable currency fluctuations worldwide. The majority of European cities moved down in the ranking with Warsaw experiencing the most dramatic change, plummeting 78 places from 35th to 113th. London and Oslo, both previously in the top 10, have dropped 13 and 10 places respectively. The same trend can be seen in Australia, New Zealand and India. Sydney has dropped 51 places from 15th to 66th and Mumbai has slipped down to 66th from 48th place.
Cities in the U.S., China, Japan and the Middle East have surged in the ranking. New York is a new entry in the top 10, jumping from 22nd to 8th place, and so is Beijing, now in 9th place, up from 20th in 2008. Japan now has two cities in the top 10 and Dubai has climbed 32 places to reach 20th.
Nathalie Constantin-Metral, a senior researcher at Mercer, said, “As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year, we have observed significant fluctuations in most of the world’s currencies, which have had a profound impact on this year’s ranking. Many currencies, including the Euro and British Pound, have weakened considerably against a strong U.S. dollar causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings.”
“With significant exposure to multiple economies and currencies, multinational companies continue to be greatly affected by the financial crisis. The cost of expatriate programs is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations and inflation rates. Now that cost containment and reduction is at the top of most company agendas, keeping track of the change in factors that dictate expatriate cost of living and housing allowances is essential,” Ms Constantin-Metral added.
“It is important for multinational companies to continuously benchmark against their peers to ensure compensation packages are fair and in line with the rest of the market.”© Japan Today