Saturday, July 11, 2009

2009 world's most expensive cities to live

I wonder...what will I be doing now if I relocate to Japan?...^^

Twenty spots where it's hardest to make ends meet.

Think your morning commute is expensive? Think again. The ride on a bus or subway in Tokyo costs $3.25. Grab a newspaper and a cup of coffee on the way and the total comes to $11.70. That's more than anywhere else in the world--24% more than what those same things cost in New York, even.

Tokyo is the world's most expensive city, according to Mercer's 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living survey released today, with the cost of living up 13.1% from 2008; the city ranked at No. 2 in 2008's survey. Japan's capital is followed by Osaka and Moscow, which held the top spot in last year's rankings. Geneva comes in fourth.

The significant changes from last year are due to massive swings in exchange rates, with many currencies at their weakest in years against the U.S. dollar, during the March 2009 survey period. Because of this, New York moved up 14 spaces to No. 8 from No. 22. London dropped to No. 16 from No. 3 as the pound dropped as low as 1.37 against the U.S. dollar during the study period. Six months earlier, one pound was worth $1.86.

"Changes in exchange rate tend to be one of the major drivers, I would argue the major driver, in cost of living," says Rebecca Powers, a principal consultant at Mercer. Even with the U.S. dollar weakening over the past four months--it's now worth $1.65--due in part to the Obama administration's stimulus package, the cost of living in London, when measured against the value of the U.S. dollar, is significantly lower than it was a year ago, when the pound was worth more than $2.

Other notable jumps from last year's ranking to this year's are Dubai, which moved to No. 20 from No. 52, and Caracas, which moved to No. 15 from No. 89. Both climbed so quickly because the local currencies are pegged to the greenback; the more the dollar's value increased, so did the cost of living in those places (but Caracas also has a high rate of inflation, pushing up prices for basic goods).

All U.S. cities included in the ranking also experienced a rise, including Los Angeles, up 32 places, and Washington, D.C., up 41 places.

World's Top Five Most Expensive Cities To Live:

1. Tokyo, Japan
2. Osaka, Japan
3. Moscow, Russia
4. Geneva, Switzerland
5. Hong Kong

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