US tumbles down 2013 expensive cities index

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The cost of living the Australian dream has surged, with ­Sydney and Melbourne among the five most expensive cities in the world, outstripping most European and US locations, according to an annual survey.

Asia and Australasia account for 11 of the world’s top 20 most expensive cities, with eight from Europe and one from South America, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) worldwide cost of living index found. No North American cities featured in the top 20.

A decade ago, there were six Asian cities, ten European cities and four US cities in the top 20 of the list that calculates living costs in 131 cities in 93 countries and is used by companies for costings when relocating staff.

In the 2013 survey, Tokyo reclaimed the title as the world’s most expensive city, with Osaka in second place. Currency swings pushed Zurich into the No1 position last year, but government exchange rate controls have driven it back to No7 in the list.

Jon Copestake, editor of the index, said one of the most notable changes was the rising costs in Australia, with Sydney third in the list and Melbourne fifth. Sandwiched between them was the Norwegian capital, Oslo. He added: “Ten years ago there were no Australian cities in the top 50 most expensive cities and I have not seen this sort of climb with any other cities.”

The survey is based on costs of more than 160 items from food and clothing, to domestic help, transport and utilities.

Also featured in the 2013 top ten were Singapore, Zurich, Paris, the Venezuelan capital, Caracas and Geneva. The Canadian city of Vancouver remains the most expensive location in North America, ranked 21st in the index.

But while Asia and Australasia are home to 11 of the 20 most expensive cities, six of the ten cheapest are also found here.

Mumbai in India and Karachi in Pakistan were the joint cheapest locations in the survey, followed by New Delhi, the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu and Algerian capital, Algiers.