Skip to main content

Tokyo takes over as world's most expensive city for expats

By Molly Gray, for CNN
June 12, 2012 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
Japan's capital is now rated as the most expensive city in the world for expats, the Mercer report says.
Japan's capital is now rated as the most expensive city in the world for expats, the Mercer report says.
  • Tokyo moved up from No. 2 last year to become world's most expensive city
  • Housing costs are the biggest indicator of cost of living, researchers say
  • Euro crisis caused many European cities to fall in rankings
  • Asian cities make up five of the top 10 most expensive cities

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Tokyo has overtaken Luanda, Angola, as the world's most expensive city for overseas staff after the cost of imported goods rose in the wake of last year's earthquake.

An annual cost of living report, released Tuesday by U.S. consulting firm Mercer, showed several Japanese cities had moved up in the rankings after the yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar.

Two other Japanese cities rank in the top ten: Osaka comes in third with Nagoya in 10th place. Elsewhere, Luanda drops to second, Moscow is forth, with Geneva in fifth place.

Researchers looked at 214 cities around the world, analyzing data from March 2011 to March 2012.

"We compare the cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment," senior researcher Nathalie Constantin-Métral said in a video on the company's website.

The survey uses New York City, which dropped one spot to 33rd on the list, as their base city when evaluating foreign cities.

As a result of the on-going European financial crisis, many cities across Europe fell in the rankings. London dropped seven spots to 25th this year, while Paris moved down 10 spots to No. 37.

"Countries badly hit by the Eurozone crisis, including Greece, Italy and Spain, have also experienced drops in rental accommodation prices," Constantin-Métral said in the report. In Italy, Milan dropped 13 spots, while Rome fell eight spots to No. 42.

By contrast, cities in Asia and the Americas moved up as their currencies strengthened.

The cost of housing remained the strongest indicator for the cost of living in all cities.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.