Tokyo named costliest city in world

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Some papers reported that Tokyo has replaced Hong Kong as the world's "most expensive city" title. The survery, which is about the cost-of-living including housing, food, transportation and entertainment, is from foreigners' point of view.


Top 20 Cities (with last year's ranking):
1. Tokyo, Japan (3)
2. Moscow, Russia (2)
3. Osaka, Japan (6)
4. Hong Kong, China (1)
5. Beijing, China (4)
6. Geneva, Switzerland (28)
7. London, U.K. (10)
8. Seoul, South Korea (9)
9. Zurich, Switzerland (32)
10. New York, United States (7)
11. Shanghai, China (5)
12. St. Petersburg, Russia (8)
13. Oslo, Norway (40)
14. Hanoi, Vietnam (11)
15. Copenhagen, Denmark (62)
16. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (14)
17. Milan, Italy (63)
18. Shenzen (13) and Guangzhou, China (11) (tied)
20. White Plains, United States (16)

Yes, Tokyo is a very costly city. Taxi fares start at JPY 660 ($5.50), trains' at JPY 130 ($1.1), movies' at JPY 2000 ($16.7). Restaurants are really expensive. With some wine, you may need JPY 10000 ($83.3) for a person. Still, I think London is almost as expensive as Tokyo.

Interesting observation is that Asian cities ranked very high and Canadian cities ranked low (under top 100 out of some 200 cities). I wondered food/restaurants cost have an impact.

BTW, it is a bit interesting to know the difference in the reports among these papers...

Tokyo named costliest city in world Strong euro raises cost-of-living rank across Europe


TOKYO -- Defying notions about Japanese deflation, Tokyo is again the most expensive city in the world.

A 4 percent drop in the exchange value of the dollar against the Japanese yen helped put Tokyo in first place and Osaka in third place in an annual cost-of-living survey of 144 major world cities conducted in March by Mercer Human Resources Consulting of Geneva, a Marsh & McLennan company.

With cab fares starting at $5, $10,000-a-month apartment rents not uncommon and intercity rail travel expensive, Tokyo residents and visitors find daily life expensive.

Tokyo Ranked World's Most Expensive City By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 7:14 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- Tokyo dethroned Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city in an annual cost-of-living survey released Monday, while the surging euro currency sent European cities climbing in the rankings.

U.S. cities saw their ranking fall in the survey of 144 urban areas around the world because of a weakened dollar against European and Asian currencies.

Tokyo Replaces Hong Kong as World's Costliest City By REUTERS

Filed at 10:54 a.m. ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Tokyo has replaced Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city, according to a lifestyle survey that also showed the gap between the world's costliest and cheapest cities narrowing for a sixth straight year.

Moscow held steady in second place, followed by the western Japanese city of Osaka, which went up three places from 2002. At the other end, Asuncion, capital of Paraguay, replaced Johannesburg as the cheapest city in the world.

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While it is (painfully) true that one can spend a fortune for dining in Japan, you can also have a full menu for as little as US$5 (tea is free!), even in Tokyo.

In Switzerland prices stay within a certain range, starting from CHF 12 [$9.6] for a full menu (i.e. Migros/Coop restaurants) and almost never going above CHF 500 [$400] per person (both excl. beverages). Dining out on special occasions means spending max. CHF 120-150 [$95-$120], higher exceptions for birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations. In Japan there is (theoretically) no upper limit when dining at some special places (!).

I found NY taxi rates quite adequate, Tokyo is ok too and Zurich is an impudence. Ground fare is CHF 6 [$4.8] day and night, so entering a taxi without driving one single meter costs 6 Francs. The meter starts counting immediately, each kilometer is CHF 3.5 [$2.8] and waiting is CHF 1.05/min. [$0.85]. A distance of 2 km would cost you $10.4, and this is not far, streets in Zurich City are not very straight as opposed to NY, often crowded and there are lots of crossings and hidden speed control machines that make you slow down all the time.

Ground fare is higher in Japan with 660 Yen [$6.25], but 2 km are included and drivers tend to stop the meter if they can't find the destination in reasonable time (!).

Going to Zurich Airport takes 15 min. by train and costs about $40-45, leaving from Times Square, Manhattan takes around 1.5 h to JFK by subway and costs $50-55 (I don't remember prices for Haneda Airport, Tokyo). So again Zurich is more expensive in relation to distance.

Trains in Tokyo 120 Yen [$1.15] are cheaper, Zurich tops with CHF 2.1 [$1.7].
There are no cheaper fares in Japan while in Switzerland you get half or reduced rates when buying tax reduction cards (valid for 1-3 years) or multiple fare cards. There are also passes for a fixed price like monthly passes (valid in a certain region or area) and general passes valid 1 year for entire Switzerland, independent of how often and how far you travel.

Going to the movies is expensive in Japan as mentioned 2'000 Yen [$18.9]. Discounts only for students, retired people or for ladies' night. Zurich's theaters ask CHF 18 [$14.4], and there are discounts (not for students), i.e. Monday is always CHF 12 [$9.6] and special "Cinema Member Cards" (which almost everybody has) give you the same discount except for Thursday/Friday and evening shows.

I wouldn't claim Zurich as an extremely expensive place, but it can rip you off sometimes. Living expenses in NY or Tokyo are ridiculously high and wages are very low. Our living costs in Zurich are high but wages are very good either.
Average hourly wage rate is $16 +/-, depending on the industry. As a waiter/waitress you may get $18 plus tip (which is considerably much and can make up to 1/3 of your monthly pay).
Minimum wage for full contract work is $2'400 (by law), and it is unlikely someone cheats you. Often you get one month's wage paid as a "13th month bonus" as end of year gratuity. Taxes are really low (higher for foreigners) and the bonus covers almost all of your tax costs for 1 year. If you think this is high, go to Sweden and pay 75% of your income for taxes....have a nice day.

Therefore I doubt that London comes after Geneva. Even for us, London is a rip off adventure. Friends of mine (double citizen) can hardly make a living there, but they prefer London's diversity over Zurich's town-like city. Geneva and Zurich are not likely to differ much in living costs. Quality of service and products is high as is our living standard. Certainly one of the better places to live (from my point of view).

So this topic is always a matter of one's point of view.

[All above prices calculated with rates of 02/06/04 from]

nob seki

Yes, I agree. I used to live in London but the city's price is really expensive.