Oslo named as having the highest living costs for expats

by Ray Clancy on June 11, 2013

Oslo named as having the highest living costs for expats

Oslo named as having the highest living costs for expats

For the first time in three years, Tokyo is no longer the most expensive location for expats, having been overtaken by Oslo in an annual cost of living research report. Tokyo is in sixth place in the latest rankings of the report compiled twice a year by ECA International, a world leader in providing solutions for the management of international assignments.

At the top of the global list, Oslo is followed by the Angolan capital of Luanda, then Stavanger in Norway, Juba in South Sudan and Moscow. ‘Tokyo has always been an expensive place for global companies to send staff, and, despite its five place fall since last year, that remains the case,’ said Lee Quane, ECA’s regional director, Asia.

‘The significant depreciation of the Yen against other major currencies in recent months is the primary reason for this drop. It means that for many companies, the cost of maintaining their assignees’ purchasing power while posted there has fallen. But it’s important not to exaggerate the position as Tokyo is still the world’s sixth most expensive city, and the most expensive in Asia,’ he added. ECA’s cost of living surveys compare a basket of consumer goods and services commonly purchased by expats in more than 400 locations worldwide such as rent, utilities, cars and school fees.

Quote from ExpatForum.com : “‘Im from United States, thinking about living in Norway. From what I’ve heard on other sites, Norway is expensive, high taxes, cold, wet, and some claim that the Norwegians tend to be cold and unwelcoming to foreigners.”

Within Asia Seoul has jumped from seventh to third most expensive location and from 29th to 14th globally. Not only have the prices of goods and services there increased at a faster rate than the previous year, but the Won has also strengthened against major currencies thereby pushing up costs there for many international assignees. Beijing (24th globally), Shanghai (26th), Singapore (36th) and Hong Kong (38th) complete the list of the top 10 most expensive locations in Asia.

Indian locations continue to be among the region’s cheapest in terms of cost of living for international assignees. New Delhi, ranked 200th globally, is followed by Mumbai at 215th. Karachi, ranked 256th globally, is the least expensive Asian location for expats. In Europe, the Norwegian capital is followed by Stavanger and Moscow (5th). The report says that Russian Rouble has weakened between surveys against major currencies but the cost of goods and services in Moscow has nevertheless increased more than 10% again this year. Despite falls in prices and the Swiss Franc weakening against other major currencies over the past year, Swiss locations remain among the top 10 most expensive locations for expats.

British locations are among those in the region to have fallen most in the ranking. Central London dropped 21 places and is currently in 87th place globally, largely as a result of the pound depreciating against other major currencies. Despite dropping down the ranking, Caracas, ranked 33rd globally, remains the most expensive location in the Americas. Manhattan and Vancouver follow, ranking 43rd and 51st respectively.

The weakening of the Brazilian real against many major currencies over the year has more than offset the 6% price increase overall of items in ECA’s cost of living basket for Brazil and locations there continue to drop down the global ranking. While Rio de Janeiro is the 4th most expensive location in the Americas, it has dropped 20 places globally to 52nd spot. The economic situation in Argentina remains complicated. Despite showing signs of slowing, inflation there is still above 20% while the black-market peso exchange rate in Argentina has soared. Buenos Aires has risen from 76th to 64th position in the global cost of living ranking – two years ago it ranked 130.

For the first time in recent years, all the Australian cities have seen slight falls down the global ranking. While the Aussie dollar remains a strong global currency, it has weakened against some major currencies. Additionally, the rate at which prices have increased has slowed since a year ago. Sydney remains the most expensive of the Australian locations surveyed. It is in 17th position globally followed by Canberra in 23rd place.

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