Survey of cities ranks Hong Kong, Moscow most expensive places to live

N.Y. tops Americas list

Australia, New Zealand most livable, affordable


LONDON - Hong Kong has taken over from Tokyo as the world's most expensive city, London is the costliest capital in the European Union, and New York has the highest prices of any city in North America, according to an annual survey.

In other results in the report, released Monday by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Buenos Aires took the biggest plunge, falling from 23rd to 133rd after Argentina's economic crisis and currency devaluation.

More surprising, the second-costliest city was Moscow, with Tokyo third. "You don't always see a match between the quality of life and the cost of living," said John Murphy, global marketing manager for Mercer, based in Windsor, outside London. In Mercer's quality-of-life survey, done in March, Moscow came in 150th.

Harare, the capital of troubled Zimbabwe, became Africa's most expensive city, rising from 130th to 26th. Johannesburg, South Africa replaced Blantyre in Malawi as the cheapest city among 144 for which calculations were done worldwide.

Milan, Dublin and Paris were, in that order, the European Union's next most expensive places, while Madrid and Lisbon were the least. Cities in Australia and New Zealand offered the best combination of livability and affordability.

Murphy, explaining Moscow's ranking, said, "It's because of things like fresh food and fruit and well-made clothing that aren't available there, and taxis cost 50 percent more in Moscow than in London." A suit setting the fashion pace on Bond Street in London would cost $850. To cut the same figure on Tverskaya Street in Moscow it would cost $1,330.

The survey measured the comparative costs of more than 200 items ranging from luxury hotel suites and household appliances to toothpaste and deodorant. A cup of coffee in Hong Kong costs four times what it does in Amsterdam. The world's highest baby-sitting charges are in New York.

"You want to feel sorry for a place, consider Caracas, Venezuela," Murphy said. "Our environmental survey in March found it was the dirtiest place to live in South America, and this new one finds it is also the most expensive."

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