LONDON – Oslo has overtaken Tokyo as the world's most expensive city, according to a survey published Tuesday. Tokyo had held the top spot for 14 years in the Economist Intelligence Unit's biannual survey.
Of 17 U.S. cities featured in the survey, the most expensive were New York (27th), Chicago and Los Angeles (tied for 35th), and San Francisco (40th).
Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, saw the largest proportional rise in the cost of living in 2005, moving above another Japanese city, Osaka, into third place, the survey showed. Paris was in fifth place, followed by Copenhagen, London, Zurich, Geneva and Helsinki.
The emergence of Oslo, Norway's capital, at No. 1 "highlights a much wider increase in the relative cost of living across Europe, driven by the long-term underperformance of the dollar," the Economist Intelligence Unit said.
The survey found that cities in developing countries are recording advances in the relative cost of living, some of them buoyed by entry into the European Union or accession talks. Belgrade (107th), Bucharest (95th), Kiev (82nd), Warsaw (63rd), Prague (58th) and Istanbul (48th) all saw a relative jump of more than 5 percent in the cost of living, the study showed.
In many Asian cities, economic growth has pushed up the cost of living up, the report said. Seoul, at No. 13, overtook Hong Kong (14th) as the most expensive city in the region after Tokyo and Osaka.
However, despite the appreciation of the yuan since it freed itself from a fixed rate from the U.S. dollar in July, Chinese cities have experienced a relative fall in the rankings as increased investment opens up pricing competition and lowers tariffs on branded goods in larger urban centers.
Shanghai, the most expensive Chinese city on the list, is still only at No. 51, up five places from last year.
Among cities in sub-Saharan Africa, costs rose largely because of high inflation, the report said. Lagos in Nigeria (63rd), the Zambian capital Lusaka (91st) and Nairobi, Kenya (93rd) all experienced double-digit inflation. This had the greatest impact for Lusaka, Zambia, which rose 18 places in the ranking to No. 91.
In North America, Canadian cities are now more expensive than all but the largest cities surveyed in the United States. Montreal and Vancouver shared 43rd place.
In Latin America, the sharpest rise in the rankings was shown by the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which each jumped 22 places to tie for 87th amid rising consumer prices.