Costurile de trai in lume 2011 / 2012

World Cost of Living 2012: Tokyo is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, pushing Luanda, Angola, down to second position, according to Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey. Osaka is in third position, up three places from last year, whereas Moscow remains in fourth and Geneva in fifth positions. Singapore and Zurich share sixth place, up two and one places respectively since 2011. Ndjamena, Chad, drops five places, but Hong Kong retains its ninth place. Dublin, Ireland fell 14 places to a 72 ranking while changes in exchange rates impact the rankings.

cost-of-living

Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city for expatriates, less than one-third as expensive as Tokyo. Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, have affected the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, inflation, and volatility in accommodation prices.

In the UK, London (25) is the most expensive city for expatriates, down seven places from last year. At 133, Birmingham is up 17 places, having overtaken Aberdeen (144) and Glasgow (161). Belfast (165) is the UK’s least expensive city, up 13 places in the ranking since 2011.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The cost of housing is also included and, as it is often the biggest expense for expatriates, it plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. Mercer's cost-of-living survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Japan

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to data from the Bank of Japan, the average dollar rate for the survey’s most recent period through February 2012 was ¥78.9, an 8.6% decline from the previous year.

Japan hasn’t been a cheap place to live for a long, long time. This was the 12th year Mercer ranked Tokyo most expensive city since 1994, including four years running through 1997, when the dollar averaged ¥122.9. Even when it hasn’t been No. 1, Tokyo has ranked among the top three every year except 2007, when it dipped to fourth.

To be sure, living in Tokyo doesn’t need to break the vault. There are ways to bargain-bin your way through the daily grind, with ¥500 lunch boxes, living in smaller accommodations outside of the city center, and avoiding taxis at all costs.

But costs for even smaller items can pinch. According to Mercer, you can buy two cups of coffee in New York for what it costs to buy one in Tokyo - - $8.29. That is more than any other major Asian city ranked in the top 10.

Tokyo is also the most expensive place to watch a movie. Admission is an average of $22.97, about $3 more than in Sydney, the next most costly city to catch a film.

Yet Tokyo real estate is a steal compared with Hong Kong and Luanda, where the monthly rents for a luxury two-bedroom unfurnished apartment are $7,092 and $6,500, respectively. Still, Tokyo’s average monthly rent — $4,847 — is the third-highest, even as rental prices have fallen “as people relocated from the affected area to the south of Japan” following last year’s earthquake and tsunami disasters.

Euro fall

In Paris, the rent on an unfurnished, two-bedroom luxury property fell 3% to $3,041, according to Mercer. Rental costs in Rome, Berlin and Madrid were also down.

But, perhaps the biggest impact on prices has been the exchange rate. The euro has fallen 16% since its peak in May. That translates into a 16% discount for staff and companies operating in the eurozone.

Rising Asian costs

In comparison, the relative boom in many Asia-Pacific economies has pushed up bills for expats based in the region.

In Shanghai, spending on accommodation has risen 73%. Rents in the world's most expensive property market, Hong Kong, rose 23% to $7,039 for a two-bedroom apartment. Rents in Beijing were up 15%.

Mercer based its findings on prices gathered between March 2011 and March 2012.

During that time, strong swings on the currency markets have been bad news for overseas companies operating in Asia, especially those who receive most of their income in euros.

Aussie dollar

The Economist ranks Australia as having among the most overvalued property markets.

Over the 12 months to June, the Australian dollar traded between US95¢ and $US1.10, well above its long-term average.

A pair of jeans costs $150 in Tokyo, $174 in Luanda while expats in Moscow pay about $9.60 for an international newspaper.

Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer, is responsible for compiling the ranking each year. She commented: “Deploying expatriate employees is becoming an increasingly important aspect of multinational companies’ business strategy, including expansion. But with volatile markets and stunted economic growth in many parts of the world, a keen eye on cost efficiency is essential, including on expatriate remuneration packages. Making sure salaries adequately reflect the difference in cost of living to the employee’s home country is important in order to attract and retain the right talent where companies need them.”

“When compared to New York, our benchmark city, most European cities have witnessed a decline in cost of living. Some exceptions exist where accommodation prices have increased or additional VAT taxes have pushed the cost of living up. In North America, most cities have gone up in the ranking, as the US dollar has strengthened against a large proportion of the world’s other currencies. In Asia, more than six in ten cities moved up in the rankings, including all surveyed cities in Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand. Cities in Australia and New Zealand witnessed some of the biggest jumps, as their currencies strengthened significantly against the US dollar.”

Europe, the Middle East and Africa: At number four in the global ranking, Moscow remains the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates. Geneva follows in fifth position and Zurich in sixth (up one place from last year). The next European city in the ranking, Bern (14), is up two places from last year, following the strengthening of the Swiss franc against the US dollar.

With a few exceptions, the remaining European cities have all dropped in the rankings, mainly due to a considerable weakening of local currencies, including the euro, against the US dollar. Oslo (18) is down three places from 2011, whereas the next European city on the list, London (25) is down seven places. In 28th position, St. Petersburg is up one place. Paris (37) is down 10 places, whereas Milan (38), Rome (42), Stockholm (46), Vienna (48) and Amsterdam (57) are all down from seven to 13 places. Helsinki (65) and Prague (69) have both slid down the list, 23 and 22 places respectively. Brussels (71) dropped a more moderate nine places, followed by Dublin (72) - - down 14 places. Ranking 207, Skopje, Macedonia, is the least expensive city for expatriates in Europe.

Constantin-Métral explained: “Despite some marked price increases across the region in the first half of last year and widespread increases in VAT charges, most European cities dropped in the ranking. This is mainly due to the unstable economic situation across Europe, which has led to the depreciation of most local currencies against the US dollar. Countries badly hit by the Eurozone crisis, including Greece, Italy and Spain, have also experienced drops in rental accommodation prices.”

Tel Aviv (31) continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates, despite dropping seven places since 2011. Ranking 67 and up eight places from last year, Beirut has overtaken Abu Dhabi (76, down nine places from last year). Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (186), continues to rank as the least expensive city in the region. “On the whole, most Middle Eastern cities have dropped in the ranking, mainly because price increases on goods and services have been more moderate here than in our benchmark city, New York. Slight decreases in expatriate accommodation costs were also observed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” said Ms Constantin-Métral.

Despite dropping off the top spot on the global list, Luanda, Angola (2), remains the highest ranking city in Africa. Ndjamena, Chad (8), follows, dropping five places since 2011. Dropping eight places, Libreville, Gabon (20), is the next African city on the list, followed by Khartoum, Sudan (26), which is up 18 places. “It might be surprising to see 20 African cities in the top third of the ranking. The main driver behind this is the difficulty finding good, secure accommodation for expatriates. So the limited supply of acceptable accommodation is very expensive. The cost of imported international goods is also high, contributing to many regional cities moving up the ranking,” said Constantin-Métral.

In South Africa, Johannesburg (154) and Cape Town (179) have fallen 23 and 21 places, respectively, reflecting the considerable weakening the South African rand has suffered against the US dollar in the last year. Tunis, Tunisia (209), remains the least expensive city for expatriates in the region, down two places from last year.

The Americas: São Paulo (12) and Rio de Janeiro (13) remain the most expensive cities for expatriates across both North and South America, and are closely trailed by Caracas (29), which jumped 22 places since last year. In South America, Brasilia (45) is now the fourth most expensive city, down 12 places. Dropping from 53rd position, Havana (99) experienced the largest drop in the region as the US dollar strengthened considerably against the Cuban peso. At 121, up from 159, Buenos Aires made the region’s biggest jump up the list following strong inflation, which considerably increased the cost of goods, and an increase in accommodation cost.

Constantin-Métral commented: “Inflation pressures continued to push some South American cities up the ranking, whereas for some of the region’s cities, weakening of the local currencies caused them to rank lower.”

Ranking 33 (down from 32 in 2011), New York City remains the most costly city in the United States. Los Angeles (68) and San Francisco (90) are slowly catching up, however, having jumped a respective nine and 16 places since last year. Amongst other major US cities, Washington (107) is up one place, Miami (110) is up five places and Chicago, also at 110, is down two places. Portland, Oregon (178), and Winston-Salem, North Carolina (195), remain the least expensive surveyed cities for expatriates in the United States. Ms Constantin-Métral said: “Although price increases have remained moderate overall, most US cities have gone up in the ranking, mainly as a result of the strong US dollar.”

Toronto (61) remains the highest ranking city in Canada, closely followed by Vancouver (63). Montréal (87) has dropped eight places, whereas Calgary (92) has climbed four.

Asia Pacific: This year, Tokyo (1) emerged as the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally. Climbing three places since 2011, Osaka (3) is the next Asian city on the list, followed by Singapore (6) and Hong Kong (9). Nagoya, Japan (10), is up one place, and Shanghai (16) and Beijing (17) climbed five and three places respectively, overtaking Seoul (22, down three places). Two more Chinese cities follow: Shenzhen (30) and Guangzhou (31), up 13 and seven places respectively since 2011. “The combination of increased prices on goods and a strengthening of the Chinese yuan has pushed Chinese cities up the ranking. Continued high demand for accommodation has also led to moderate increases in rental costs,” said Ms Constantin-Métral.

In India, New Delhi (113) and Mumbai (114) have dropped considerably – by 28 and 19 places respectively. Elsewhere in Asia, Jakarta (61) is up eight places, Bangkok (81) is up seven and Kuala Lumpur (102) is up two places. Hanoi’s position remained unchanged at 136, and Karachi (214) remains the region’s least expensive city for expatriates.

Australian cities continue to rank high on the list in the Asia Pacific region and, following the strengthening of the Australian dollar, have all experienced further jumps up the global list since last year. Sydney (11) and Melbourne (15) experienced relatively moderate jumps, up three and six places respectively, whereas Perth (19) and Canberra (23) both jumped 11 places. Brisbane (24) rose by seven places, and Adelaide (27) shot up 19 places. Australia now has three surveyed cities in the top 20 and all six surveyed cities in the top 30. In New Zealand, both Auckland (56) and Wellington (74) both jumped a very significant 62 places.

“The leap up the list by cities in New Zealand follows large increases in both accommodation cost and demand, coupled with a stronger New Zealand dollar,” explained Ms Constantin-Métral. “Demand for rental properties has also increased significantly in all the Australian cities we rank. Coupled with very limited availability, the result has been very tight markets and increased prices.”

Top 50 cities: Cost of living ranking Mercer international basket including rental accommodation costs Base City: New York

March 2012 March 2011 City Country
1 2 TOKYO JAPAN
2 1 LUANDA ANGOLA
3 6 OSAKA JAPAN
4 4 MOSCOW RUSSIA
5 5 GENEVA SWITZERLAND
6 7 ZURICH SWITZERLAND
6 8 SINGAPORE SINGAPORE
8 3 N'DJAMENA CHAD
9 9 HONG KONG HONG KONG
10 11 NAGOYA JAPAN
11 14 SYDNEY AUSTRALIA
12 10 SÃO PAULO BRAZIL
13 12 RIO DE JANEIRO BRAZIL
14 16 BERN SWITZERLAND
15 21 MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA
16 21 SHANGHAI CHINA
17 20 BEIJING CHINA
18 15 OSLO NORWAY
19 30 PERTH AUSTRALIA
20 12 LIBREVILLE GABON
21 17 COPENHAGEN DENMARK
22 19 SEOUL SOUTH KOREA
23 34 CANBERRA AUSTRALIA
24 31 BRISBANE AUSTRALIA
25 18 LONDON UNITED KINGDOM
26 44 KHARTOUM SUDAN
27 46 ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA
28 29 ST. PETERSBURG RUSSIA
29 51 CARACAS VENEZUELA
30 43 SHENZEN CHINA
31 38 TEL AVIV ISRAEL
31 38 GUANGZHOU CHINA
33 32 NEW YORK CITY, NY UNITED STATES
34 23 NIAMEY NIGER
35 70 YANGON MYANMAR
36 61 KINSHASA DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO
37 27 PARIS FRANCE
38 25 MILAN ITALY
39 41 LAGOS NIGERIA
39 63 BAMAKO MALI
41 67 ABIDJAN CÔTE D'IVOIRE
42 34 ROME ITALY
43 55 BRAZZAVILLE CONGO
44 39 DJIBOUTI DJIBOUTI
45 33 BRASILIA BRAZIL
46 39 STOCKHOLM SWEDEN
47 37 NOUMÉA NEW CALEDONIA
48 36 VIENNA AUSTRIA
49 48 BAKU AZERBAIJAN
50 25 VICTORIA SEYCHELLES
50 44 DAKAR SENEGAL