Content - Tokyo most expensive city, Zurich rises to six

  • June 17, 2011

Tokyo most expensive city, Zurich rises to six

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Four of the ten most expensive cities in the world are in Japan and three in Switzerland. According to a study by the research firm Employment Conditions Abroad, Tokyo has defended its title of "Least Affordable Place on Earth”. Zurich overtook Geneva in the Top Ten and is now behind the Norwegian cities Oslo (2nd) and Stavanger (4th) the least affordable place in Europe. Accomodation and utilities are not included in the survey.

Zurich rises to 6th most expensive city

Strong Currencies  

Tokyo remains the most expensive location in Asia Pacific – and globally – for international assignees. Although Japan is the only Asian country surveyed where the actual cost of goods in the ECA basket of goods has fallen, a strong currency and already higher costs for goods mean that cost of living for assignees is significantly more expensive than in other locations in the top ten.  

Of the European locations surveyed cost of living has increased the most in Swiss locations. In Switzerland, where inflation is low, it is the strong Swiss franc that has contributed to pushing Zurich up to 6th position globally from 10th. Geneva rose to ninth and Bern to tenth place.  

Price Inflation  

Price inflation is being witnessed around the world as the cost of food, oil and other commodities rise. In Asia Pacific, the prices of ECA’s basket of goods and services in local currencies have increased by around 4.8 percent on average. However, currency movements still have the biggest influence on rankings.  

Prices have increased by 2.7 percent overall in Australia. Papua New Guinea (9.7 percent), Bangladesh (7 percent), Vietnam (6.2 percent), Indonesia (5.8 percent) and Hong Kong (5.5 percent) are among the Asia Pacific economies that have seen the highest rates of price inflation.  

China Changes  

Little change has been seen in China but Hong Kong’s drop in the ranking from 33rd to 45th means it is currently only marginally more expensive for international assignees than Beijing, ranked 46th and Shanghai in 47th position.  

Xi’an is the cheapest mainland Chinese city featured in the survey, ranked 126 places behind Beijing in 172nd. Hanoi is the Asian location that has fallen most in the ranking from 200 to 224 while Karachi (at 240) remains the cheapest location in Asia and globally.  

Sharp Rises  

In some cases, the combination of both strong currencies and inflation has contributed to a country’s rise up the ranking.  As well as Sydney this is happening in Singapore, Ulaan Baatar, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur – these locations have risen by 32, 23, 20 and 16 places respectively. 

Other locations have fallen in the ranking despite major increases in local prices. Hong Kong and Vietnam are examples of this – the weakening of their currencies has more than counterbalanced the impact of price inflation.  

Assigning Salaries  

To help multinational companies calculate assignment salaries, ECA carries out a Cost of Living Survey twice a year comparing a basket of consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in 400 locations worldwide.  

Living costs for assignees are affected by inflation, availability of goods and exchange rates, all of which can have a significant impact on assignee remuneration packages. Because accommodation and utilities are not factored into the survey, the results are also relevant to travelers.    


Picture: flickr/Julio Martinez

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