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London: 16th Most Expensive City in the World

BY Boon Koh
Published 7 July 2009

This news will come as a shock to many who are living in London. The city of £8 congestion charges and £15 cocktails has only been ranked the 16th most expensive city in the world to live in for expatriates, according to Mercer LLC’s annual Cost of Living survey.

Pile of 20 Pound Notes London was ranked 3rd last year by the same survey, but has tumbled down the table due to a combination of the weak pound against the US Dollar and other currencies, and decline in property rental costs.

Tokyo is top of this year’s rankings, followed by another Japanese city, Osaka. Many European cities also fell due to the Euro’s weakening against the dollar, while Beijing makes a surprise entry at number 9 due to the strong Chinese yuan.

Mercer compared the cost of over 200 goods and services in each location, including the cost of renting a luxury two-bedroom unfurnished apartment per month, a bus or underground ride, petrol, coffee and milk. The results were then ranked against an index, with New York given a benchmark score of 100. Tokyo scored 143.7.

Rents in London have dropped between 10-20% for luxury two bedroom apartments in the city, but other costs such as travel and fresh food have all risen, although the cost of dining out has decreased a bit. Holidays are now much more dearer than usual, whilst the high oil price last year did not help car drivers.

Top 10 list of most expensive cities in the world (score in brackets, index = 100 = New York):

  1. Tokyo (143.7)
  2. Osaka (119.2)
  3. Moscow (115.4)
  4. Geneva (109.2)
  5. Hong Kong (108.7)
  6. Zurich (105.2)
  7. Copenhagen (105.0)
  8. New York (100)
  9. Beijing (99.6)
  10. Singapore (98.0)

Surprisingly, living in Moscow is very expensive, but this is probably because maintaining the expat and high profile lifestyle there requires bodyguards and a chauffeur. There is no surprise that two Swiss cities feature in the top 10 list of most expensive cities in the world for expats, as Switzerland is known for £50 plates of spaghetti. Singapore is surprisingly cheap, given that it is a small island state that has to import virtually all its food and properties prices are high because land is at a premium.