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Tuesday, June 29, 1999 Published at 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK

Business: Your Money

The world's most expensive cities

Tokyo - still the world's most expensive city

The world's most expensive cities are in Asia, with Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong topping the list.

The semi-annual cost-of-living survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit puts London ninth on the list, down from sixth place last year.

[ image:  ]
Paris, Geneva, Zurich and Oslo are now more expensive to live in, with Zurich top in the European cost-of-living stakes.

The only Third World city in the top 10 is Libreville, the capital of Gabon in French-speaking West Africa.

The survey suggests that Tokyo is nearly 50% more expensive than New York, the baseline index for the report.

London is estimated to cost 10% more to live in than New York.

Crisis hits cities

In contrast, the economic crisis and the sharp currency devaluation in Russia and Brazil have reduced the cost of living for foreigners.

[ image: Rio: cost of living fell sharply]
Rio: cost of living fell sharply
Moscow fell from being the third most expensive city in the world one year ago to 88th place in December, although it has now recovered to 37th place.

Latin American cities are now among the cheapest places in the world to live in. After the collapse of the Brazilian currency, the real, Rio de Janeiro fell by 83 places to 111th, with the cost of living only half that of New York.

Quito, Ecuador, has the lowest cost of living of all 122 cities surveyed. Three people could live in Quito for the same amount it costs to feed and house one person in New York.

Within Europe, Budapest is the cheapest city to live in, coming just below Rio. Warsaw, Prague, and Bucharest also have a cost-of-living index just half that of London.

Capital idea

Almost everywhere, living in a capital city is more expensive than living in the provinces.

[ image: Quito: the cheapest city in the world]
Quito: the cheapest city in the world
Manchester, for example, is 16% cheaper than London, Lyon is 17% less than Paris.

The exception is Italy, where Milan is 10% more expensive than Rome.

Financial capitals are expensive too. Atlanta is 30% cheaper than New York.

Developing country contrasts

The cost of living in Western Europe and North America is broadly similar, with most cities within 20% of the cost of New York.

But there are extremely wide variations in the cost of living in different cities in Asia and Africa.

Delhi and Bombay, for example, rank among the cheapest, with a cost of living half that in Shanghai, which is as expensive as New York.

Abidjan, the old capital of the Ivory Coast, is also nearly as expensive as New York - while Johannesburg is now half that cost, thanks to the devaluation of the South African rand.

The EIU survey is based the cost of living for comparable accommodation for a business executive and family sent overseas, and used by companies and governments to calculate allowances.

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