Tokyo is the costliest city in the world in which to live as at January 2011.
Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world in which to live, out of 300 global locations, surveyed as at January 2011. While Tokyo is average in terms of the cost of items such as education (ranked 144) and alcohol & tobacco (ranked 138), it is the most expensive place in the world for groceries, healthcare, and household accommodation costs. As the most expensive city in the world, Tokyo has an overall cost of living index of 158.4 (New York = 100). In comparison to the next 3 cities to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup (SWC) Tokyo is 38% more expensive than Rio de Janeiro (SWC 2014), 36% more expensive than Moscow (SWC 2018), and 65% more expensive than Doha (SWC 2022). That means that an expatriate earning USD$5,000 per month in Doha would need to earn USD$8,250 per month in Tokyo to enable them to have the same purchasing power, and therefore a similar standard of living as they had in Doha. The cost of living for an expatriate is affected by both the availability and prices, of goods and services representative of an expatriate lifestyle, local inflation, and the exchange rate between the home and host country. As a result the cost of living has a significant impact on an expatriate’s salary package.
Caracas is the second most expensive city to live in. Caracas is most expensive place in the world for furniture and appliances, alcohol & tobacco, recreation and culture, hotels restaurants and meals out. Caracas is the second most expensive place for groceries and healthcare.
Hong Kong is the third most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live in. The high overall cost of living rank for Hong Kong is primarily a result of two expensive basket groups. Hong Kong is the fourth most expensive city in the world for healthcare, and is the second most expensive city in the world for household accommodation, which typically comprises 30% of an expatriate’s expenses. Hong Kong is a good example of why many international organizations compensate separately for healthcare as well as household related costs such as housing rental, water, electricity, household gas, household fuels, local rates and residential taxes. Items that are provided by the employer should be excluded from a cost of living index calculation. The cost of living index for Hong Kong excluding healthcare and household related costs is substantially lower than it’s overall cost of living index of 129.4. Hong Kong is relatively cheap for recreation & culture (ranked 241 in the world), education (ranked 259 in the world), as well as furniture & appliances (ranked 268 in the world).
Geneva, the fourth most expensive city, is particularly expensive for recreation & culture as well as groceries.
Osaka, ranked fith, is most expensive for household accommodation (ranked 3 in the world), healthcare (ranked 5 in the world) and groceries (ranked 6 in the world).
Asia-Pacific has 4 of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. Tokyo is first and Hong Kong the third most expensive location in the world (and most expensive in greater China), whilst Osaka is the third most expensive city in Asia-Pacific (ranked 5 in the world), followed by Nagoya (ranked 9 in the world).
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. Within mainland China, Shanghai (ranked 19 in the world), and Beijing (ranked 126 in the world) are the most expensive locations. The cheapest city surveyed in China is Tianjin (ranked 284) with a cost of living index of just 61.4. The cheapest city in Asia-Pacific is Nuku’Alofa in Tonga (ranked 299) with a cost of living index of 53.1.
Most expensive cities in Asia-Pacific (Global rank in brackets)
1. Japan, Tokyo (1)
2. China, Hong Kong (3)
3. Japan, Osaka (5)
4. Japan, Nagoya (9)
5. Japan, Yokohama (13)
6. Australia, Sydney (17)
7. China, Shanghai (19)
8. Australia, Canberra (20)
9. Kiribati, South Tarawa (23)
South Asia is the least expensive region in the world for expatriates to live in. The most expensive city surveyed is Mumbai (ranked 109 in the world), followed by New Delhi (ranked 136), and Chennai (ranked 139). The cheapest city in South Asia is Thimphu in Bhutan (ranked 297).
Most expensive cities in South Asia (Global rank in brackets)
1. India, Mumbai (109)
2. India, New Delhi (136)
3. India, Chennai (139)
4. India, Calcutta (141)
5. Maldives, Male (147)
6. India, Hyderabad (149)
7. India, Bangalore (167)
8. Afghanistan, Kabul (208)
9. Bangladesh, Dhaka (263)
10.Pakistan, Lahore 278)
Europe’s most expensive cities are mostly those that are not on the Euro. The most expensive city in Europe is Geneva (ranked 4 in the world), followed by Zurich (ranked 6), making Switzerland the most expensive country in Europe. Zurich is followed by Oslo (ranked 8). Moscow is the world's 10th most expensive city (4th in Europe) followed by Vaduz in Liechtenstein. The cheapest city in Europe is Tirana in Albania (ranked 283 in the world) with a cost of living index of 61.7.
Most expensive cities in Europe (Global rank in brackets)
1. Switzerland, Geneva (4)
2. Switzerland, Zurich (6)
3. Norway, Oslo (8)
4. Russia, Moscow (10)
5. Liechtenstein, Vaduz (12)
6. Denmark, Copenhagen (14)
7. United Kingdom, London (16)
8. France, Paris (21)
9. Monaco, Monaco (22)
10.Jersey, Saint Helier (24)
The Middle East's most expensive city is Abu Dhabi (ranked 27 in the world), followed by Doha (ranked 49), and Bahrain (ranked 87). Dubai is the fourth most expensive city in the Middle East (ranked 89 in the world) with a cost of living index of 89.7. The cheapest city surveyed in the Middle East (and cheapest in the world) is Sanaa in Yemen (ranked 300 in the world) with a cost of living index of 49.7, half that of New York which has a cost of living index of 100.
Most expensive cities in the Middle East (Global rank in brackets)
1. United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi (27)
2. Qatar, Doha (49)
3. Bahrain, Manama (87)
4. United Arab Emirates, Dubai (89)
5. Israel, Jerusalem (102)
6. Lebanon, Beirut (138)
7. Palestinian Territories, West Bank (152)
8. Kuwait, Kuwait City (156)
9. Syria, Damascus (165)
10.Iran, Tehran (170)
The Americas most expensive city is Caracas, which is the world’s second most expensive city to live in for expatriates.
Brazil has 3 of the 4 most expensive cities in the Americas. Sao Paulo (ranked 7 in the world), Rio de Janeiro (ranked 11) are followed by Brasilia (ranked 15). Nassau (ranked 25) is the fifth most expensive city, while New York (ranked 33) is the sixth most expensive city in the America’s and most expensive in the United States of America. The cheapest city to live in the Americas is La Paz in Bolivia (ranked 294 in the world). The cheapest city surveyed in the United States of America is Indianapolis Ind (ranked 285 in the world).
Most expensive cities in the Americas (Global rank in brackets)
1. Venezuela, Caracas (2)
2. Brazil, Sao Paulo (7)
3. Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (11)
4. Brazil, Brasilia (15)
5. Bahamas, Nassau (25)
6. USA, New York NY (33)
7. Canada, Toronto (37)
8. Falkland Islands, Stanley (42)
9. Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain (47)
10.Canada, Vancouver (54)
Figures used in this report were taken from Xpatulator.com’s cost of living database as at 1 January 2011. The above ranks are based on the overall cost of living index using all 13 basket groups with New York as the base city (Cost of living index = 100).
About Xpatulator.com’s Cost of Living Data
Xpatulator.com’s cost of living data is based on prices for the same quantity and quality of goods and services, representative of expatriate lifestyle, in each city. The data is collected and updated on a quarterly basis. The cost of living data is used by Xpatulator.com clients to calculate salary purchasing power parity, cost of living allowances, and customized (i.e. clients can select their own base city) cost of living indexes for expatriate assignments online, using Xpatulator.com’s 3 premium content calculators.
The 13 basket groups do not count equally and are weighted according to expatriate expenditure norms as follows (weighting percentage is in brackets):
1. Alcohol & Tobacco (2%): Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
2. Clothing (2.5%): Clothing and footwear products.
3. Communication (2%): Telephone, Internet, Mobile Contract and Calls.
4. Education (5%): Creche Fees, School Fees, College Fees, and Tertiary Study Fees.
5. Furniture & Appliances (5%): Furniture, household equipment and appliances.
6. Groceries (16.5%): Food, non-alcoholic beverages and cleaning materials.
7. Healthcare (5%): Doctor Consultation rates, Private Ward Rate, Prescription Medicine, and Private Medical Insurance Contributions.
8. Household (30%): Housing rental, utilities, local rates and residential taxes.
9. Miscellaneous (3%): Stationary, Linen and general goods and services.
10. Personal Care (3%): Personal Care products and services.
11. Recreation & Culture (6%): Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Tickets.
12. Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels (2%): Dinner at Restaurant (non fast food), Hotel Rates, Take Away, Drinks & Snacks (fast Food).
13. Transport (18%): Public Transport, Vehicle Costs, Vehicle Fuel, Vehicle Insurance and Vehicle Maintenance.
Xpatulator.com is the most comprehensive source of international cost of living information. We provide free international cost of living overviews and rank information covering 13 cost of living baskets and 300 global locations as well as 3 premium content calculators.
Founded in 2007, Xpatulator.com’s mission is to organize the world’s cost of living indices, exchange rates and relative hardship indices and make it accessible and useful to all.
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The full January 2011 list of all 300 international locations using all 13 basket groups is as follows:
January 2011 Rank Country, City
1 Japan, Tokyo2 Venezuela, Caracas3 China, Hong Kong4 Switzerland, Geneva5 Japan, Osaka6 Switzerland, Zurich7 Brazil, Sao Paulo8 Norway, Oslo9 Japan, Nagoya10 Russia, Moscow11 Brazil, Rio de Janeiro12 Liechtenstein, Vaduz13 Japan, Yokohama14 Denmark, Copenhagen15 Brazil, Brasilia16 United Kingdom, London17 Australia, Sydney18 Angola, Luanda19 China, Shanghai20 Australia, Canberra21 France, Paris22 Monaco, Monaco23 Kiribati, South Tarawa24 Jersey, Saint Helier25 Bahamas, Nassau26 Singapore, Singapore27 United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi28 Korea Republic of, Seoul29 Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby30 Australia, Melbourne31 Guernsey, St Peter Port32 Australia, Perth33 USA, New York NY34 Vanuatu, Port Vila35 United Kingdom, Glasgow36 Isle of Man, Douglas37 Canada, Toronto38 Germany, Munich39 Austria, Vienna40 Finland, Helsinki41 Gabon, Libreville42 Falkland Islands, Stanley43 Russia, St. Petersburg44 Italy, Milan45 United Kingdom, Birmingham46 Germany, Frankfurt47 Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain48 Nigeria, Lagos49 Qatar, Doha50 United Kingdom, Leeds51 Italy, Rome52 Saint Helena, Jamestown53 New Caledonia, Noumea54 Canada, Vancouver55 Germany, Cologne56 Croatia, Zagreb57 Central African Republic, Bangui58 Solomon Islands, Honiara59 Mali, Bamako60 Micronesia, Palikir61 Australia, Brisbane62 Belgium, Brussels63 Bermuda, Hamilton64 Chad, NDjamena65 Taiwan, Taipei66 Canada, Calgary67 Cote DIvoire, Abidjan68 San Marino, San Marino69 Germany, Hamburg70 Azerbaijan, Baku71 United Kingdom, Belfast72 Slovakia, Bratislava73 Iceland, Reykjavik74 Luxembourg, Luxembourg75 Netherlands, Amsterdam76 Ireland, Dublin77 Sweden, Stockholm78 Germany, Berlin79 Germany, Bonn80 Czech Republic, Prague81 Canada, Montreal82 Estonia, Tallinn83 Turkey, Istanbul84 Congo Democratic Rep, Kinshasa85 New Zealand, Auckland86 Cayman Islands, George Town87 Bahrain, Manama88 Indonesia, Jakarta89 United Arab Emirates, Dubai90 Cameroon, Douala91 Spain, Madrid92 Australia, Adelaide93 Colombia, Bogota94 France, Lyon95 USA, San Francisco Calif96 USA, Boston Mass97 Vatican City, Vatican City98 Sudan, Khartoum99 Cameroon, Yaounde100 Jamaica, Kingston101 Sierra Leone, Freetown102 Israel, Jerusalem103 USA, Washington DC104 Cook Islands, Avarua105 Spain, Barcelona106 USA, San Jose Calif107 Kazakhstan, Almaty108 France, Marseille109 India, Mumbai110 Canada, Ottawa111 Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome112 Samoa, Apia113 Greenland, Nuuk114 Djibouti, Djibouti115 Martinique, Fort-de-France116 Turkey, Ankara117 Guinea-Bissau, Bissau118 Nauru, Yaren119 Malta, Velletta120 USA, Anchorage AK121 USA, Philadelphia Pa122 Barbados, Bridgetown123 Portugal, Lisbon124 Hungary, Budapest125 Zambia, Lusaka126 China, Beijing127 Liberia, Monrovia128 Puerto Rico, San Juan129 Chile, Santiago130 Congo, Brazzaville131 Marshall Islands, Majuro132 South Africa, Johannesburg133 Togo, Lome134 Comores, Moroni135 Turkmenistan, Ashgabat136 India, New Delhi137 Guam, Hagatna138 Lebanon, Beirut139 India, Chennai140 Ghana, Accra141 India, Calcutta142 Tuvalu, Funafuti143 USA, Los Angeles Calif144 Cape Verde, Praia145 Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou146 Greece, Athens147 Maldives, Male148 Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre149 India, Hyderabad150 Senegal, Dakar151 Andorra, Andorra la Vella152 Palestinian Territories, West Bank153 Uruguay, Montevideo154 Rwanda, Kigali155 USA, San Diego Calif156 Kuwait, Kuwait City157 Peru, Lima158 Montenegro, Podgorica159 USA, Chicago Ill160 Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan161 USA, Portland Ore162 Malawi, Lilongwe163 Ukraine, Kiev164 French Polynesia, Papeete165 Syria, Damascus166 Lithuania, Vilnius167 India, Bangalore168 Poland, Warsaw169 South Africa, Pretoria170 Iran, Tehran171 South Africa, Cape Town172 USA, Baltimore Md173 Tanzania, Dar es Salaam174 Namibia, Windhoek175 USA, Seattle Wash176 Georgia Republic of, Tbilisi177 Philippines, Manila178 Timor-Leste, Dili179 USA, Miami Fla180 Mexico, Mexico City181 Thailand, Bangkok182 Fiji, Suva183 Gibraltar, Gibraltar184 Benin, Cotonou185 Cyprus, Nicosia186 Armenia, Yerevan187 Guinea, Conakry188 South Africa, Durban189 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown190 Saudi Arabia, Riyadh191 Gambia, Banjul192 Guatemala, Guatemala City193 Somalia, Mogadishu194 Egypt, Cairo195 Niger, Niamey196 USA, Phoenix Ariz197 Grenada, Saint Georges198 Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur199 Cuba, Havana200 Guyana, Georgetown201 Haiti, Port-au-Prince202 Slovenia, Ljubljana203 Serbia, Belgrade204 USA, Las Vegas Nev205 Jordan, Amman206 Costa Rica, San Jose207 Latvia, Riga208 Afghanistan, Kabul209 Madagascar, Antananarivo210 Swaziland, Mbabane211 USA, Detroit Mich212 Mauritius, Port Louis213 Palau, Melekeok214 Belarus, Minsk215 USA, Denver Colo216 Panama, Panama City217 Eritrea, Asmara218 Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre219 Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan220 USA, Cleveland Ohio221 Algeria, Algiers222 Seychelles, Victoria223 Dominica, Roseau224 Oman, Muscat225 USA, Atlanta GA226 Botswana, Gaborone227 Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Johns228 Iraq, Baghdad229 USA, Charlotte NC230 Equatorial Guinea, Malabo231 French Guiana, Cayenne232 Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo233 Moldova, Chisinau234 USA, Jacksonville Fla235 China, Wuhan236 China, Shenzhen237 USA, Milwaukee Wis238 USA, Pittsburgh Penn239 USA, Tampa Fla240 Macedonia, Skopje241 Vietnam, Hanoi242 Saudi Arabia, Jeddah243 Laos, Vientiane244 USA, Dallas Tex245 Romania, Bucharest246 Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar247 China, Dalian248 USA, Fort Worth Tex249 Mozambique, Maputo250 Lesotho, Maseru251 Honduras, Tegucigalpa252 USA, San Antonio Tex253 Kosovo, Pristina254 Nicaragua, Managua255 Burundi, Bujumbura256 Belize, Belmopan257 USA, Houston Tex258 Ethiopia, Addis Ababa259 China, Macao260 Kenya, Nairobi261 USA, Columbus Ohio262 USA, St Louis MO263 Bangladesh, Dhaka264 Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City265 USA, Austin Tex266 Bulgaria, Sofia267 Myanmar, Yangon268 Saint Lucia, Castries269 Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek270 USA, El Paso Tex271 Argentina, Buenos Aires272 USA, Memphis Tenn273 China, Guangzhou274 El Salvador, San Salvador275 Paraguay, Asuncion276 Morocco, Rabat277 Zimbabwe, Harare278 Pakistan, Lahore279 Mauritania, Nouakchott280 Ecuador, Quito281 Nepal, Kathmandu282 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo283 Albania, Tirana284 China, Tianjin285 USA, Indianapolis Ind286 Pakistan, Islamabad287 Korea Democratic Republic of, Pyongyang288 Suriname, Paramaribo289 Uzbekistan, Tashkent290 Pakistan, Karachi291 Tajikistan, Dushanbe292 Uganda, Kampala293 Tunisia, Tunis294 Bolivia, La Paz295 Cambodia, Phnom Penh296 Sri Lanka, Colombo297 Bhutan, Thimphu298 Libya, Tripoli299 Tonga, NukuAlofa300 Yemen, Sanaa
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