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Cost of Living - Europe October 2012

Europe: Cost of Living Rankings for October 2012


Which cities / countries drop in the ranking, and which moved up?

  • The biggest mover down the rankings is Kaliningrad in Russia, which has dropped to become the 324th most expensive location in the world.
  • The biggest mover up the rankings is Gibraltar, which has risen to be the 171st most expensive location in the world.


Reasons for this movement:

Kaliningrad is unusual in that it is sandwiched between the Baltic Sea, Poland, and Lithuania (EU member states), making it impossible to travel between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia over land without crossing at least one EU state. While the global financial crisis impacted Kaliningrad negatively, it has gained from increasing trade with the countries of the EU resulting in increasing economic growth and rising industrial output. Kaliningrad is particularly expensive for furniture & appliances. For example a Blu-ray player is $167 on average while a 46 inch LED HD TV will likely cost you around $1,653. Dry cleaning a men’s 2 pc suit will cost on average $21.53, while an international newspaper averages $6.62.

Gibraltars economy is booming compared to countries in the region, mainly due to its relatively low level of tax. The cost of living can generally be compared to that of the UK rather than Spain. Water and electricity charges are higher than costs elsewhere, and property prices are much higher than those in neighbouring Spain mainly due to the limited space. Despite duty free shopping the logistical cost of importing the majority of goods also makes Gibraltar expensive, particularly for groceries and meals out. For example a kg of potato’s averages $1.90, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast $11.06, 1 kg cheddar cheese $10.75, and 1 dozen large eggs $7.93. A meal out for two people in a mid-range restaurant costs around $84.82.

Xpatulator’s Cost of Living rankings are released every quarter and measure the comparative cost of living for expatriates in 780 cities, covering every country worldwide.  The cost of 13 basket groups with over 140 items are compared in each location, these include alcohol and tobacco, clothing, communication, education, furniture and appliances, groceries, healthcare, housing, personal care, recreation and culture, restaurants-meals-out and hotels, and transport.

Zurich as the most expensive city in Europe has an overall cost of living index of 134.23 compared to New York with an index of 100, and Tokyo with an index of 139.89. Zurich’s cost of living index is similar to cities such as Geneva, Hong Kong, and Luanda.  Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe mainly because the Eurozone crisis has created a flight to safety in Swiss Francs, which are generally considered safer. The inflows have resulted in the Swiss Franc appreciating, and as a consequence prices have gone up compared to the Euro and the US Dollar. 

Particularly expensive in Zurich are the following basket groups, groceries, healthcare, restaurants meals out and hotels, and transport.  For example a 1 kg bag of apples averages $5.08 in Zurich, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast $32.65, 1 kg cheddar cheese $23.80, and a 500g loaf white bread $3.17.  A private practice doctor visit for an uninsured patient is likely to cost $125 on average, and a private hospital stay, including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food, and related costs will average $3,675 per day.  A cappuccino (regular, medium) costs on average $5.14, while a meal out (for 2 mid-range restaurant) $103.40.  The average price over the last year for highest available octane petrol / gasoline has been just over $2 per litre.

To provide an assignee, sent from a low cost of living country to a more expensive country, with a similar purchasing power to what they have in their home country, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary.  The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in the host country.


The below ranking shows the overall Cost of Living Rankings in Europe by city:

  1. Switzerland, Zurich
  2. Switzerland, Geneva
  3. Monaco, Monaco
  4. United Kingdom, London
  5. Norway, Oslo
  6. Liechtenstein, Vaduz
  7. Denmark, Copenhagen
  8. Russia, Moscow
  9. Jersey, Saint Helier
  10. France, Paris
  11. Sweden, Stockholm
  12. Italy, Rome
  13. Finland, Helsinki
  14. United Kingdom, Manchester
  15. United Kingdom, Bristol
  16. Greenland, Nuuk
  17. Russia, Vladivostok
  18. United Kingdom, Glasgow
  19. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  20. Isle of Man, Douglas
  21. Austria, Vienna
  22. United Kingdom, Edinburgh
  23. San Marino, San Marino
  24. United Kingdom, Aberdeen
  25. Iceland, Reykjavik
  26. United Kingdom, Luton
  27. Germany, Munich
  28. Guernsey, St Peter Port
  29. Belgium, Brussels
  30. Netherlands, Amsterdam
  31. United Kingdom, Guildford
  32. United Kingdom, Stoke-on-Trent
  33. United Kingdom, Southampton
  34. United Kingdom, Isle of Wight
  35. United Kingdom, Milton Keynes
  36. Germany, Frankfurt
  37. United Kingdom, Sheffield
  38. Ireland, Dublin
  39. United Kingdom, Liverpool
  40. United Kingdom, Reading
  41. United Kingdom, Coventry
  42. United Kingdom, Northampton
  43. United Kingdom, Newcastle upon Tyne
  44. Russia, St. Petersburg
  45. United Kingdom, Portsmouth
  46. Gibraltar, Gibraltar
  47. United Kingdom, Derby
  48. Azerbaijan, Baku
  49. United Kingdom, Leeds
  50. United Kingdom, Preston
  51. Turkey, Mersin
  52. United Kingdom, Bradford
  53. Italy, Milan
  54. United Kingdom, Kingston upon Hull
  55. Italy, Genoa
  56. Germany, Hamburg
  57. United Kingdom, Belfast
  58. Germany, Stuttgart
  59. France, Nice
  60. Turkey, Konya
  61. United Kingdom, Birmingham
  62. United Kingdom, Cardiff
  63. United Kingdom, Wolverhampton
  64. Belarus, Minsk
  65. United Kingdom, Plymouth
  66. Russia, Novosibirsk
  67. United Kingdom, Leicester
  68. United Kingdom, Nottingham
  69. Germany, Cologne
  70. Malta, Valletta
  71. France, Marseille
  72. Italy, Turin
  73. Russia, Nizhny Novgorod
  74. France, Toulouse
  75. Germany, Bonn
  76. Netherlands, Rotterdam
  77. Germany, Berlin
  78. Italy, Naples
  79. France, Lyon
  80. Italy, Palermo
  81. France, Bordeaux
  82. Cyprus, Nicosia
  83. Russia, Samara
  84. Turkey, Istanbul
  85. Turkey, Izmir
  86. Spain, Madrid
  87. Turkey, Adana
  88. France, Nantes
  89. Estonia, Tallinn
  90. Spain, Barcelona
  91. Russia, Kaliningrad
  92. Turkey, Bursa
  93. Russia, Yekaterinburg
  94. Ukraine, Kiev
  95. Portugal, Lisbon
  96. Georgia Republic of, Tbilisi
  97. Russia, Kazan
  98. Croatia, Zagreb
  99. Russia, Omsk
  100. Greece, Thessaloniki
  101. Turkey, Ankara
  102. Spain, Valencia
  103. Czech Republic, Prague
  104. Greece, Athens
  105. France, Lille
  106. Andorra, Andorra la Vella
  107. Slovenia, Ljubljana
  108. Slovakia, Bratislava
  109. Vatican City, Vatican City
  110. Lithuania, Vilnius
  111. Armenia, Yerevan
  112. Moldova, Chisinau
  113. Montenegro, Podgorica
  114. Kosovo, Pristina
  115. Latvia, Riga
  116. Hungary, Budapest
  117. Poland, Warsaw
  118. Serbia, Belgrade
  119. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo
  120. Albania, Tirana
  121. Macedonia, Skopje
  122. Poland, Krakow
  123. Poland, Lodz
  124. Bulgaria, Sofia
  125. Romania, Bucharest


The below ranking shows the Cost of Living Rankings in Europe by city excluding housing, education, healthcare and transport basket groups:

  1. Switzerland, Zurich
  2. Switzerland, Geneva
  3. Norway, Oslo
  4. Russia, Moscow
  5. Liechtenstein, Vaduz
  6. Denmark, Copenhagen
  7. Monaco, Monaco
  8. Russia, Vladivostok
  9. France, Paris
  10. United Kingdom, London
  11. Sweden, Stockholm
  12. Greenland, Nuuk
  13. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  14. Azerbaijan, Baku
  15. San Marino, San Marino
  16. Italy, Rome
  17. Jersey, Saint Helier
  18. Iceland, Reykjavik
  19. Austria, Vienna
  20. Finland, Helsinki
  21. Belgium, Brussels
  22. Russia, St. Petersburg
  23. Russia, Nizhny Novgorod
  24. Gibraltar, Gibraltar
  25. Russia, Kaliningrad
  26. Germany, Munich
  27. France, Nice
  28. Turkey, Mersin
  29. Russia, Novosibirsk
  30. Germany, Frankfurt
  31. Germany, Stuttgart
  32. Russia, Samara
  33. United Kingdom, Bristol
  34. Estonia, Tallinn
  35. Netherlands, Amsterdam
  36. United Kingdom, Edinburgh
  37. France, Marseille
  38. Belarus, Minsk
  39. Isle of Man, Douglas
  40. Italy, Genoa
  41. Turkey, Konya
  42. United Kingdom, Glasgow
  43. United Kingdom, Aberdeen
  44. Ireland, Dublin
  45. France, Toulouse
  46. United Kingdom, Manchester
  47. Germany, Hamburg
  48. Russia, Yekaterinburg
  49. Guernsey, St Peter Port
  50. Germany, Bonn
  51. United Kingdom, Guildford
  52. United Kingdom, Liverpool
  53. United Kingdom, Newcastle upon Tyne
  54. Cyprus, Nicosia
  55. United Kingdom, Luton
  56. Italy, Turin
  57. Russia, Kazan
  58. Russia, Omsk
  59. Germany, Cologne
  60. Germany, Berlin
  61. France, Lyon
  62. United Kingdom, Stoke-on-Trent
  63. Spain, Madrid
  64. United Kingdom, Sheffield
  65. Italy, Palermo
  66. United Kingdom, Milton Keynes
  67. Italy, Milan
  68. Spain, Barcelona
  69. France, Bordeaux
  70. United Kingdom, Reading
  71. Italy, Naples
  72. United Kingdom, Coventry
  73. United Kingdom, Belfast
  74. United Kingdom, Southampton
  75. United Kingdom, Isle of Wight
  76. France, Nantes
  77. Netherlands, Rotterdam
  78. United Kingdom, Cardiff
  79. United Kingdom, Portsmouth
  80. Greece, Thessaloniki
  81. United Kingdom, Preston
  82. United Kingdom, Derby
  83. United Kingdom, Northampton
  84. United Kingdom, Leeds
  85. United Kingdom, Birmingham
  86. Turkey, Istanbul
  87. United Kingdom, Bradford
  88. Georgia Republic of, Tbilisi
  89. Slovenia, Ljubljana
  90. United Kingdom, Kingston upon Hull
  91. Malta, Valletta
  92. Latvia, Riga
  93. United Kingdom, Leicester
  94. Turkey, Izmir
  95. United Kingdom, Wolverhampton
  96. Greece, Athens
  97. United Kingdom, Plymouth
  98. Spain, Valencia
  99. Turkey, Adana
  100. Andorra, Andorra la Vella
  101. United Kingdom, Nottingham
  102. Turkey, Bursa
  103. Czech Republic, Prague
  104. Lithuania, Vilnius
  105. Slovakia, Bratislava
  106. Portugal, Lisbon
  107. France, Lille
  108. Vatican City, Vatican City
  109. Turkey, Ankara
  110. Ukraine, Kiev
  111. Moldova, Chisinau
  112. Armenia, Yerevan
  113. Croatia, Zagreb
  114. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo
  115. Kosovo, Pristina
  116. Poland, Warsaw
  117. Hungary, Budapest
  118. Montenegro, Podgorica
  119. Poland, Krakow
  120. Poland, Lodz
  121. Bulgaria, Sofia
  122. Albania, Tirana
  123. Serbia, Belgrade
  124. Romania, Bucharest
  125. Macedonia, Skopje

Xpatulator.com Head of Client and Marketing Services Denise McManus comments that: “Expatriates should remember that all other things being equal, prices rise fastest in the places where talented people want to be, especially when combined with a sustained high demand for high level skills, where resources such as land are scarce.”

New York City is used as the base for the cost of living index rankings and the US dollar is used as the base currency. The cost of living data collected is representative of an expatriate lifestyle, where the local prices for fixed quantities of the same good and services at or near each location, and US dollar exchange rates are used.  Prices in each location are affected by availability (i.e. supply and demand) as well as local pricing regulations and taxes on goods and services (e.g. premiums on luxury goods).  Local inflation is usually representative of local price increases, which in turn impacts an expatriates purchasing power in the host country.  The exchange rate impacts both the price of imports to the host country and the expatriate assignment salary calculation between the home and the host country.  The cost of living has a significant impact on the purchasing power of an expatriate’s salary package.



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