Author`s name Alex Naumov

Moscow remains most expensive city for expatriates

Moscow remains the world's most expensive city for expatriates with London close behind after rising three places due to the weakness of the dollar, an annual cost of living survey published on Monday said.

Currency movements were the main factor driving multiple changes of position in the worldwide survey by leading human resources consultancy Mercer, which ranks 143 cities against each other with New York as the benchmark.

"There have been some significant changes in the rankings since last year," said Mercer consultant Rebecca Powers. "These are primarily due to exchange rate fluctuations -- in particular the weakening of the U.S. dollar and strengthening of the euro."

Seoul was the third-placed city, followed by Tokyo and Hong Kong, all down one from 2006. Copenhagen was up two in sixth place, Geneva unchanged in seventh, Osaka down two in eighth and Zurich and Oslo unchanged in ninth and 10 places respectively.

The survey measures the comparative costs of more than 200 items including rent, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

For example, the most expensive fast-food hamburger in a leading city is to be found in Copenhagen while the cheapest is in Beijing. Moscow serves the most expensive cup of coffee, with the cheapest being found in Buenos Aires.

Monthly rental of a luxury two-bedroom unfurnished apartment is most expensive in Tokyo and cheapest in Johannesburg, where it costs less than a quarter of the Tokyo price.

The annual survey normally covers 144 cities, but this year Harare has been dropped because hyperinflation there has made international cost comparisons meaningless, Mercer said.

Asuncion was the cheapest city for expatriates for the fifth consecutive year, just behind Karachi and Quito.

New York, down five in 15th place, was the most expensive city in North America, followed by Los Angeles, down 13 in 42nd place. Miami fell 12 places to 51st, while San Francisco was down 20 in 54th place, Reuters reports.

This year's list showed significant changes in rankings, particularly in Europe due to a strengthened Euro and weak US Dollar, Mercer said.

In turn, US cities and those in countries whose currency is pegged to the dollar, fell down the list.

The least expensive city in Europe for expats is Sofia in Bulgaria.

Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro are the most expensive cities in South America.

Chinese cities moved down the ranking. Beijing was 20th (4.1 percent less expensive than New York), Shanghai 26th (minus-7.9 percent)

Mercer attributed this to a decrease in the value of the Chinese Yuan against the Euro.

Rising property prices caused Indian cities like Mumbai -- up to 52 from 68 last year -- to move up the ranking, it added.

Expats face higher living costs in Australia than New Zealand: Sydney is the most expensive city (21st, 5.1 percent less expensive than New York); Wellington is the cheapest in the region at minus-28.2 percent (111th), AFP reports.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik