ISSN 2330-717X

Tokyo Ranked World’s Most Expensive City For Expats – OpEd


By Anna Watanabe

Fancy paying over US$8 for your morning coffee? How about spending almost $5,000 a month on your two bedroom, unfurnished apartment?

Well, sadly for Tokyo’s expats, this is the grim reality of living in the world’s most expensive city.

A global survey by consulting firm, Mercer LLC, released Tuesday, has placed three Japanese cities – Tokyo (1), Osaka (3), Nagoya (10) – in the Top 10 most expensive list.

Mercer’s Cost of Living survey covers 214 cities and measures the cost of over 200 items including food, transport, clothing and household goods.

The consulting firm says currency fluctuation and the volatility of the Yen had placed Tokyo at the top of the ladder. Increased cost of imported goods following last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake in March also played a significant role.

But it’s not just Japan that’s got expats whipping their wallets out. Nathalie Constantine-Metral, Principal at Mercer, said cities across the Asia Pacific region have surged up the rankings, including many Australian cities.

“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,” Ms Constantine-Metral said in a statement on the Mercer website.

“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.”

Australia now has three cities in the top 20 list and all six surveyed cities in the top 30, largely due to the strong Australian dollar.

Europe, on the other hand, has seen many cities sliding down the list. London, which has failed to make it into the Top 10 has fallen seven places to 25th, while Paris is down ten spots to 37th.

“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,” said. Ms Constantine-Metral.

So who did make the Top Ten?

1- Tokyo, Japan

2- Luanda, Angola

3- Osaka, Japan

4- Moscow, Russia

5- Geneva, Switzerland

6- Zurich, Switzerland & Singapore, Singapore

8- N’Djamena, Chad

9- Hong Kong, Hong Kong

10-Nagoya, Japan

And just in case you’re wondering, the cheapest place for expats is Karachi, Pakistan where the cost of living is roughly one third that of Tokyo’s.

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Asian Correspondent

Asian Correspondent is an English-language liberal news, blogs and commentary online newspaper serving all of the Asia-Pacific region. The website covers asian business, politics, technology, the environment, education, new media and Asia society issues.

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