Saturday, November 26, 2011

International Cost of Living - November 2011




Tokyo remains the costliest city in the world, for expatriates, to live in. Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in for groceries, healthcare, and household accommodation.

Geneva is the second most expensive city to live in. Geneva is most expensive place in the world for hotels restaurants and meals out and is second most expensive place for groceries, healthcare, and transport, while it is fourth most expensive place for clothing.

Zurich, the third most expensive city in the world is particularly expensive for hotels restaurants and meals out, healthcare, groceries and transport.

Hong Kong is the fourth most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live in. Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in the world for household accommodation, which typically comprises 30% of an expatriate’s expenses.

The most expensive city in Africa for expatriates to live is Luanda in Angola. Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and administrative center. It is also the capital city of Luanda Province. The city is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, with many large developments taking place that will alter the cityscape significantly. Around one-third of Angolans live in Luanda, 57% of whom live in poverty. Living conditions in Luanda are extremely poor, with essential services such as safe drinking water still in short supply. The economy of Angola is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but is still recovering from the Angolan Civil War that plagued Angola from independence in 1975 until 2002. Despite extensive oil and gas resources, diamonds, hydroelectric potential, and rich agricultural land, Angola remains poor, and a third of the population relies on subsistence agriculture. Luanda is the capital and largest city of Angola. For expatriates education, restaurants, meals out and hotel costs and household accommodation are particularly expensive.


The Americas most expensive city is Sao Paulo, which is the world’s sixth most expensive city to live in for expatriates. Sao Paulo, the capital of the state of Sao Paulo, is largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and the world's 7th largest metropolitan area. Sao Paulo's economy has traditionally been industrial, but it has become increasingly based on the tertiary sector, focusing on services and businesses for the country and is the Brazilian HQ for a large number of foreign corporations. Brazil has the top 3 most expensive cities in the Americas. The economy of Brazil is a federal economy. Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world and the second largest in the Americas, after the United States.


Asia-Pacific has 2 of the 4 most expensive cities in the world. Tokyo is the most expensive place in the world for expatriates while Hong Kong is the fourth most expensive (and most expensive in greater China). Cities in mainland China remain relatively cheap, mainly due to the pegging of the Chinese Yuan to the US Dollar which has kept costs down. Japan and Australia both have 4 cities in the top 10 most expensive cities in Asia-Pacific.


Europe’s most expensive cities are mostly those that are not on the Euro. The most expensive city in Europe is Geneva (ranked 2 in the world), followed by Zurich (ranked 3), making Switzerland the most expensive country in Europe if not the world. Switzerland's currency has risen by 43% against the euro between the start of 2010 and mid-August this year. The Swiss National Bank, which conducts Switzerland’s monetary policy as an independent central bank, recently announced that it will enforce a minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 to the Euro. The Swiss National Bank said that even at a rate of CHF 1.20 per euro, the Swiss franc is still high and should continue to weaken over time. If the economic outlook and deflationary risks so require, the SNB will take further measures.


The Middle East's most expensive city is Israel for the first time (ranked 80 in the world). The economy of Israel, despite limited natural resources, has seen intensive development of the agricultural and industrial sectors over the past decades which has made Israel largely self-sufficient in food production, apart from grains and beef. Historically, Jerusalem's economy was supported almost exclusively by religious pilgrims, as it was located far from the major ports of Jaffa and Gaza. Jerusalem's religious landmarks today remain the top draw for foreign visitors, with the majority of tourists visiting the Western Wall and the Old City. The government, centered in Jerusalem, generates a large number of jobs, and offers subsidies and incentives for new business initiatives and start-ups. Recently, in one of the largest social protests in Israel's history, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest the high cost of living in the country and demand government action. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently appointed a special panel of experts to draft a series of recommendations on how best to reduce the cost of living. The panel is due to discuss the growing sense of disparity in Israel. Despite promising figures of growth and low unemployment rates, many Israeli feel the prosperity is not shared by all. Israel is followed by Abu Dhabi (ranked 84) and Doha (ranked 100).  


South Asia is the least expensive region in the world for expatriates to live in. The most expensive city surveyed is Mumbai (ranked 139 in the world). Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is the commercial and entertainment centre of India, generating 5% of India's GDP, and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India's economy. Mumbai is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. The city also houses India's Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. India have 6 cities in the top 10 most expensive cities for expatriates in South Asia.  

The ten most expensive cities in South Asia (Global rank in brackets):