Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Seoul World’s 5th Most Expensive City

Seoul ranked as the fifth most expensive city to live in, according to a world-renowned consulting firm, Wednesday.

Mercer's recent Cost of Living Survey, which covered 143 cities, showed Moscow as No. 1, followed by Tokyo, London and Oslo.

The survey took into account the cost of 200 items including housing, transport, food, clothing, household necessities and entertainment.

"The higher cost of living for cities such as Seoul, Singapore and India can be attributed to their highly valued quality of living," said Yvonne Traber, Mercer's principal research manager.

Reflecting the current inflationary pressures and the weakened dollar, the researcher pointed out the risk of higher living costs, especially for expatriate-level housing and other services. The Mercer survey is regarded as the most comprehensive cost of living survey, which helps multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

In the survey, Moscow was the world's most expensive city for expats for the third consecutive year, while the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion turned out to be the least expensive for the sixth consecutive year.

Three of the world's top 10 costliest cities for expatriates are in Asia. Besides Tokyo and Seoul, the third entry was Hong Kong.

Among other Asian cities, Shanghai climbed two rungs to 24th, while Beijing remained unchanged at 20th.

In Vietnam, Hanoi dropped 35 places to rank 91st and Ho Chi Minh city fell 40 places to 100th.

An increase in residential property prices has helped Singapore climb one notch to 13th. Jakarta and Bangkok were 55th and 95th, respectively.

"Despite Asian cities dominating the top 10 most expensive places to live, the cost of living in Asia will not deter many companies and their employees as Asia is the current focus for foreign direct investment from multinational bodies for higher growth revenue," Asia Pacific Information Product Solutions chief Neo Siew Khim said.

Analysts say the external economic outlook for emerging East Asia has dimmed amid prospects for slower growth, tighter credit conditions and higher inflation, which is pushing Asian central banks to tighten their monetary policies.

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