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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 14:09 GMT
Soccer fans face mammoth bills
Stadium in Yokohama
Soccer fans face high prices in Japan
Advice to all football fans heading for the World Cup - start saving now.

Tokyo and Osaka, two of the destinations soccer-lovers will journey to for the tournament, are the most expensive cities on the planet, a survey said.

A ride from the airport to the centre of Japan's capital might cost a visitor a staggering $230 (162), and a bill for a meal for two one could end up at $185.

The world's priciest cities
1=: Osaka, Tokyo
3: Hong Kong
4: Oslo
5=: Libreville, London
7=: New York, Zurich
9: Singapore
10=: Beijing, Chicago
Although Tokyo, capital of co-host nation Japan, is not staging any World Cup matches, the adjoining port city of Yokohama is the venue for three group matches and the final.

But, as the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living survey has revealed, fans who choose to base themselves in South Korea, the other co-host nation, might end up better off.

The cost of living and visiting the country's capital, Seoul, dropped significantly during the past 12 months, leaving it the 21st most expensive city of 134 surveyed.

Feel the difference

Soccer fans from some countries will feel the expense of Japan's cities more than others.

While Britons will find the cost of living in Tokyo about one third higher than in London, South Africans will notice an even bigger differential.

South Africa has the lowest cost of living of any of the qualifying nations, with the cost of living in Johannesburg one third of that in Tokyo.

The one hope for those heading for Japan is the recent slide in the value of the yen, which will make the country a bit more affordable to outsiders.

Most expensive

Asia also contains the world's third most expensive city, Hong Kong, the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

The world's cheapest cities
125: Johannesburg
126=: Bombay, Bucharest, Johannesburg, Pretoria
130=: Belgrade, Manila
132: Karachi
133: New Delhi
134: Teheran

Norway's Oslo ranks fourth, making it the most expensive city in Europe.

London, thanks to the strength of the pound, is the most expensive city in the EU, sharing fifth place in the league with Gabon's Libreville.

The weakness of Europe's single currency helped Paris, while the most expensive city in the eurozone, rank only 14th worldwide.

Cities where the cost of living remains relatively low include Athens, which, ranked 48th, is cheaper than Cairo or Ho Chi Minh city, the survey said.

Yugoslavia's Belgrade, which, thanks to the burden of economic sanctions, was the third most expensive place a year ago, was the cheapest European city surveyed, after a sharp devaluation of the dinar.

The city, in 130th place, is twice as cheap to live in as London, the EIU found.

In the Americas, seventh-placed New York remains the most expensive city.

Big cities, huge bills

In general, capital cities are more expensive to live in than provincial centres, the EIU found.

In Russia, for instance, Moscow ranked 31st, while the country's second largest city, St Petersburg, where living costs are 30% cheaper, was in 96th place.

In Germany, however, Munich proved more expensive than Berlin.

While Asian cities top the list, the region hosts the cheapest places too.

New Delhi, the second cheapest city surveyed, is the less expensive in the region.

The cheapest city is Teheran, with a cost of living one quarter of that in New York.

Football fans may regret it is not Iran that is staging the World Cup this year.

See also:

08 Aug 01 | Business
Japan's land prices slide on
03 Jul 01 | Business
London 'sixth dearest city in world'
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