The Sydney Opera House, a landmark in what an annual survey
lists as the world's third most expensive city. Photo Wiki
The cost of living the Australian dream has surged and
Sydney and Melbourne are among the five most expensive cities
in the world, outstripping most European and US locations,
according to an annual survey.
Asia and Australasia account for 11 of the world's top 20
most expensive cities, with eight from Europe and one from
South America, the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU)
worldwide cost of living index found. No North American
cities featured in the top 20.
This compared to a decade ago when there were six Asian
cities, 10 European cities and four U.S. cities in the top 20
of the list that calculates living costs in 131 cities in 93
countries and is used by companies for costings when
In the 2013 survey, Tokyo reclaimed the title as the world's
most expensive city. Currency swings pushed Zurich into the
No.1 position last year but government exchange rate controls
have driven the Swiss city back to No.7 in the list.
Osaka in Japan was ranked the second most expensive.
Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU Worldwide Cost of Living
Index, said one of the most notable changes was the rising
costs in Australia, with Sydney third in the list and
Melbourne fifth. Sandwiched between them was Oslo in Norway.
"Ten years ago there were no Australian cities in the top 50
most expensive cities and I have not seen this sort of climb
with any other cities," Copestake told Reuters.
"But economic growth has supported inflation and the strength
of the Australian dollar against other currencies besides the
U.S. dollar has driven up costs. Visitors will certainly feel
the difference and people living there will have noticed
prices have crept up."
RISING ASIA COSTS
The survey is based on costs of over 160 items ranging from
food and clothing, to domestic help, transport and utilities.
Copestake said the return of Tokyo to top of the list came as
no great surprise as the Japanese capital had steep real
estate costs and rents, as well as high wages fuelling
Since 1992 Tokyo has been the top-ranking city in every year
bar six when Zurich, Paris and Oslo claimed the No.1 spot.
Also featured in the 2013 top 10 were Singapore, Zurich,
Paris, the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and Geneva.
Copestake said fears over economic austerity and the
stability of the euro had pushed the index of euro zone
cities down in the past year while the inclusion of Caracas
was due to artificially high exchange rate controls.
Although no North American cities feature in the top 20, the
EIU said the cost of living in New York had risen relative to
other places in the United States. It shares 27th position as
the most expensive U.S. city with Los Angeles.
The Canadian city of Vancouver remains the most expensive
location in North America, ranked 21st in the index.
But while Asia and Australasia is home to 11 of the 20 most
expensive cities, the region is also home to six of the 10
Mumbai in India and Karachi in Pakistan were the joint
cheapest locations in the survey followed by New Delhi, the
Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and Algerian capital of
Referring to India and its forecasts for growth, the EIU
said: "Income inequality means that household spending levels
are low on a per capita basis, which has kept prices down,
especially by Western standards."
Rounding out the bottom 10 were Bucharest in Romania, Colombo
in Sri Lanka, Panama City, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and
Iranian capital Teheran.