Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Europe falls behind US in cost of living, report says

Weak euro and strong dollar result in less European cities and more US cities in list of 100 most expensive locations

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan is now the most expensive city in the world according to the latest cost of living survey by Employment Conditions Abroad. EPA
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan is now the most expensive city in the world according to the latest cost of living survey by Employment Conditions Abroad. EPA

Europe now accounts for less than a fifth of the world’s most expensive cities due to the weakened euro, with 11 European cities dropping out of the top 100, according to the latest Cost of Living survey from international human resource consultant ECA International.

US cities rose in the rankings due to the strengthened dollar, with 15 cities added to the top 100 for a total of 25, the report said.

“The euro has suffered a difficult 12 months compared to other major currencies, causing nearly all European cities to drop in the cost of living rankings,” said Steven Kilfedder, production manager for ECA International, in a statement. “The only European locations that buck this trend were cities in the UK and some in Eastern European locations that were unaffected by the poor performance of the euro.”

UK cities, such as London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast, remained steady in the global rankings with central London at 106th place. When comparing to other European cities, however, the UK capital moved up to the 34th most expensive city in Europe from 23rd last year.

The US cities that made it in the top 100 include Manhattan (21), Honolulu (27), New York City (31), San Francisco (45) and Los Angeles (48).

“As the US dollar gains strength against the euro, most Europeans will find general basket goods more expensive in the USA this year such as a loaf of bread costing around 3.70 pounds in New York City versus 1.18 pounds in London, for example,” Mr Kilfedder said.

ECA’s Cost of Living surveys, which began in 2005, cover a basket of day-to-day goods and services, such as food, household goods, recreational goods, clothing, electrical goods and meals out. Accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees were not included in the survey, which focused on expatriate living and said these items “are usually compensated for separately”.

Switzerland still featured heavily with four cities — Zurich (2nd), Geneva (3rd), Basel (5th) and Bern (6th) — in the global top ten.

The location with the highest cost of living was Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, which rose a staggering 110 places from last year. The jump was attributed to ever-escalating levels of inflation, coupled with a prominent illegal black market for foreign currencies pushing up the cost of imports, Mr Kilfedder said.

“Although the rise of Ashgabat in the rankings may be a surprise to some, those familiar with the economic and currency issues experienced by Turkmenistan over the past few years may have seen this coming,” he explained.

Asia accounted for 28 of the world’s top 100 most expensive cities, dominating over any other region. Hong Kong came in 4th place, after having dropped out of the top 10 last year. Tokyo came in 7th, Seoul 8th and Shanghai 10th.

All 14 of the Chinese cities made it to the top 50, including developing cities such as Chengdu and Tianjin, which rose significantly in the rankings over the course of the past five years.

In the Middle East, Jordan's capital Amman moved to 46th place ahead of Dubai which jumped 13 places to enter the global top 50, followed by Abu Dhabi as the 50th most expensive city in the world.

Updated: June 26, 2019 02:22 PM



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