World's Most Expensive Cities 2011

  1. Overpriced Overseas
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    Overpriced Overseas

    These days most Americans are angry about the fact that everything from fuel to food to football tickets costs more. In fact, consumer prices increased 2.1 percent year-over-year in the first quarter. In April they were up 3.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet on a global basis the U.S. has become a bargain, compared to some other countries, as the U.S. dollar weakens and costs balloon in other places, according to results from a new report by ECA International, a global human resources company. The semiannual survey, which compares the price of food and basic goods and services—but not housing, utilities, or school fees—for expatriates in more than 400 cities around the world, ranked Australian cities higher for cost of living this year, mainly the result of currency changes. The Australian dollar has appreciated about 30 percent against the U.S. dollar since last June, and the Swiss franc has jumped about 37 percent. Of U.S. cities, Manhattan, which ranked No. 28 on last year's list, fell to No. 44. Honolulu dropped to No. 62, from No. 40.
  2. No. 30 Most Expensive City: Gothenburg, Sweden
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    No. 30 Most Expensive City: Gothenburg, Sweden

    Quick lunch: $15.80
    Beer at a bar: $8.64
    Kilogram of rice: $3.50
    Dozen eggs: $4
    Movie theater ticket: $15.30

    Sweden's second-largest city, Gothenburg has been growing because of immigration and more births, show data from Statistics Sweden: The population as of Dec. 31 was 513,751. An increasingly popular cultural hub, Gothenburg has museums, universities, and Michelin-rated restaurants and is known for its seafood, including north Atlantic fish and shellfish. The Avenyn shopping district includes 200 high-end retailers and department stores, according to visitsweden.com. Photograph by Mikael Tigerström/Getty Images

    Source: Price data on all slides in USD, provided by ECA International
  3. No. 29 Most Expensive City: Tel Aviv
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    No. 29 Most Expensive City: Tel Aviv

    Quick lunch: $24.30
    Beer at a bar: $8.32
    Kilogram of rice: $4.50
    Dozen eggs: $4.40
    Movie theater ticket: $10.20

    Israel's financial capital and home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Tel Aviv has become a major center for business, culture, and tourism. Israel's most-expensive city is home to large companies that include Bank Leumi le-Israel, Ness Technologies, and Israel Chemicals. The Israeli real estate market has been resilient and the average home price in the city rose to $499,245 in last year's third quarter, according to Global Property Guide.
  4. No. 28 Most Expensive City: Adelaide, Australia
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    No. 28 Most Expensive City: Adelaide, Australia

    Quick lunch: $24.60
    Beer at a bar: $8.33
    Kilogram of rice: $3.10
    Dozen eggs: $5.30
    Movie theater ticket: $18.50

    Australian cities have jumped dramatically in ECA International's cost-of-living rankings over the last two years, due in part to the rise of the Australian dollar. The country's fifth-largest city, Adelaide ranked at No. 172 in 2009 and has since jumped to No. 28. It is the center of government and commerce in the state of South Australia, a hub for defense technology and research, car manufacturing, and electronics manufacturing. In a poll by the Property Council of Australia, an industry organization, Adelaide ranked as Australia's most-livable city.
  5. No. 27 Most Expensive City: Sao Paulo
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    No. 27 Most Expensive City: Sao Paulo

    Quick lunch: $27.80
    Beer at a bar: $6.12
    Kilogram of rice: $2.40
    Dozen eggs: $3
    Movie theater ticket: $13.60

    Home to the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, Brazil's largest city is a major global financial and cultural center. It is the headquarters location for such companies as the banks Itaú Unibanco, and Banco Bradesco, as well as beer maker AmBev. The city has a growing number of wealthy residents and numerous luxury shops can be found in the area around Oscar Freire Street, according to the city's tourism website.
  6. No. 26 Most Expensive City: Perth, Australia
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    No. 26 Most Expensive City: Perth, Australia

    Quick lunch: $26.20
    Beer at a bar: $7.33
    Kilogram of rice: $3.20
    Dozen eggs: $5.60
    Movie theater ticket: $17.70

    The state capital of Western Australia, Perth is the region's government and business center. It is the country's fourth-largest city and the population—17,955 as of 2010—has doubled since 2003, show city data. Growing industries include software development, environmental management, and civic and environmental engineering, according to the city.
  7. No. 25 Most Expensive City: Melbourne
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    No. 25 Most Expensive City: Melbourne

    Quick lunch: $28.80
    Beer at a bar: $8.13
    Kilogram of rice: $3.30
    Dozen eggs: $5.30
    Movie theater ticket: $16.60

    Home to some of Australia's largest companies, including mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton and the bank ANZ, Melbourne is a major business hub, as well as a busy seaport and airport location. It is also an active industrial area, with manufacturers such as Ford, Toyota, and Boeing. Like other major cities in Australia, costs in Melbourne have been rising, with the consumer price index up by 3.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  8. No. 24 Most Expensive City: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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    No. 24 Most Expensive City: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Quick lunch: $24.50
    Beer at a bar: $5.40
    Kilogram of rice: $7.30
    Dozen eggs: $4.50
    Movie theater ticket: NA

    Food processing and production of such consumer goods as textiles, food, and footwear are among the main industries in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital and largest city, according to Britannica.com. The country has experienced decades of conflict and relies heavily on imports. The International Monetary Fund expects rising food and fuel prices to pose a major challenge to order in the Congo this year.
  9. No. 23 Most Expensive City: Rio de Janeiro
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    No. 23 Most Expensive City: Rio de Janeiro

    Quick lunch: $26.10
    Beer at a bar: $5.82
    Kilogram of rice: $1.70
    Dozen eggs: $3.10
    Movie theater ticket: $12.90

    Brazil's second-largest city and former capital, Rio is home to companies such as Petrobras, Electrobras, and Vale. Services make up the bulk of the economy, with the city home to many banks, the Rio de Janeiro Stock Exchange, and an active tourism industry. Consumer costs are not the only big expense in Rio: According to Cushman & Wakefield, the city topped New York last year as the Americas' most expensive for renting an office.
  10. No. 22 Most Expensive City: Seoul
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    No. 22 Most Expensive City: Seoul

    Quick lunch: $19.90
    Beer at a bar: $7.80
    Kilogram of rice: $6.10
    Dozen eggs: $4.60
    Movie theater ticket: $7.80

    Seoul is South Korea's economic, political, and cultural center. The capital is home to such big Korean companies as LG, Samsung, Hyundai, and Kia, as well as to the offices of many multinational companies. Luxury brands took off in Korea in the 1990s, and shops such as Prada, Boss, Gucci, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton can be found in Seoul's high-end shopping area, Cheongdam, according to the city.
  11. No. 21 Most Expensive City: Brisbane, Australia
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    No. 21 Most Expensive City: Brisbane, Australia

    Quick lunch: $24.60
    Beer at a bar: $6.78
    Kilogram of rice: $3.10
    Dozen eggs: $5
    Movie theater ticket: $16.50

    Brisbane, Australia's third-biggest city and the capital of Queensland, has attracted many businesses in the digital-technology, life-sciences, food-and-beverage, manufacturing, logistics, mining, and cleantech sectors. Known for being laid-back, yet cosmopolitan, the growing city has accounted for about 47 percent of Queensland's jobs growth and 44 percent of its population growth over the past decade, according to the city's economic development agency.
  12. No. 20 Most Expensive City: Paris
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    No. 20 Most Expensive City: Paris

    Quick lunch: $28.50
    Beer at a bar: $11.23
    Kilogram of rice: $4.20
    Dozen eggs: $5.70
    Movie theater ticket: $15.50
    As costs rise in other cities, Paris has dropped to No. 20 in ECA International's annual report, from No. 16 in 2010 and 2009. While clothing in the city can be expensive—ECA estimates that women's jeans can cost about $142—groceries cost less than in many other European cities, particularly those in Switzerland.
  13. No. 19 Most Expensive City: Libreville, Gabon
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    No. 19 Most Expensive City: Libreville, Gabon

    Quick lunch: $27.90
    Beer at a bar: $6.85
    Kilogram of rice: $7
    Dozen eggs: $2.90
    Movie theater ticket: NA

    The Gabonese capital of Libreville remains Africa's second-most expensive city. Its main industries include lumber, shipbuilding, sawmilling, and brewing, according to the Gabon Special Economic Zone website. The city is a growing business center and a major trading center for West African timber, according to real estate website rew1.com.
  14. No. 18 Most Expensive City: Canberra, Australia
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    No. 18 Most Expensive City: Canberra, Australia

    Quick lunch: $28.50
    Beer at a bar: $7.18
    Kilogram of rice: $3
    Dozen eggs: $5.70
    Movie theater ticket: $16.60

    Canberra, Australia's second-most expensive city, jumped to No. 18 in ECA International's ranking, from No. 149 in 2009. Consumer prices in Australia's capital increased 3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Government administration and defense are the city's major employers.
  15. No. 17 Most Expensive City: Stockholm
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    No. 17 Most Expensive City: Stockholm

    Quick lunch: $16.70
    Beer at a bar: $9.85
    Kilogram of rice: $4.60
    Dozen eggs: $4.60
    Movie theater ticket: $15.90

    Sweden's capital and largest city, Stockholm covers 14 islands that are connected by 57 bridges. It is the country's most-expensive city. Stockholm is home to the Stockholm Stock Exchange and banks such as Swedbank, Handelsbanken, and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, as well as tech companies such as Ericsson and Electrolux.
  16. No. 16 Most Expensive City: Sydney
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    No. 16 Most Expensive City: Sydney

    Quick lunch: $27.10
    Beer at a bar: $6.54
    Kilogram of rice: $2.80
    Dozen eggs: $5.60
    Movie theater ticket: $18.40

    No. 29 on last year's ranking, Sydney jumped to No. 16 this year to become Australia's most expensive city. Australian cities have become more expensive for many expatriates because of the strong Australian dollar and price increases. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show consumer prices in the city rose by 3.2 percent year-on-year on the first quarter, due mainly to rising food and fuel prices.
  17. No. 15 Most Expensive City: Caracas
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    No. 15 Most Expensive City: Caracas

    Quick lunch: $35.10
    Beer at a bar: $8.84
    Kilogram of rice: $1.40
    Dozen eggs: $3.10
    Movie theater ticket: $8.80

    Venezuela's capital is known for its museums, cuisine, and ritzy malls. The city is home to petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela and the Caracas Stock Exchange. Consumer prices in Venezuela have increased as the government devalued the currency and food costs rose. The annual inflation rate was 22.8 percent in May.
  18. No. 14 Most Expensive City: Moscow
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    No. 14 Most Expensive City: Moscow

    Quick lunch: $25.80
    Beer at a bar: $10.88
    Kilogram of rice: $3.70
    Dozen eggs: $3
    Movie theater ticket: $13.30

    Moscow has the most billionaires of any city in the world, at 79, according to Forbes, and Deloitte expects the number of millionaires in Russia to triple by 2020. Consumer prices in Russia increased 4.7 percent from January to May, and the central bank expects prices to jump by a total of 7 percent year-on-year in 2011. Although housing costs were not included in this survey, ECA International estimates that average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Moscow rose by 17 percent year-on-year, to $3,500 in September.
  19. No. 13 Most Expensive City: Helsinki
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    No. 13 Most Expensive City: Helsinki

    Quick lunch: $25.40
    Beer at a bar: $8.37
    Kilogram of rice: $4
    Dozen eggs: $3.70
    Movie theater ticket: $15.90

    Finland's capital and largest city, Helsinki is recognized as a major design and business hub and is home to the Helsinki Stock Exchange. Foresting is a major business in Finland, and such paper industry companies as Stora Enso, UPM, and Metso are located in Helsinki. Housing costs are considerably higher than in most of the rest of the country, especially in Helsinki's center and new waterfront districts, according to the city.
  20. No. 12 Most Expensive City: Copenhagen
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    No. 12 Most Expensive City: Copenhagen

    Quick lunch: $38.40
    Beer at a bar: $8.95
    Kilogram of rice: $5.90
    Dozen eggs: $7.30
    Movie theater ticket: $16.20

    Copenhagen, Denmark's capital and largest city, fell to No. 12, from No. 8, in ECA International's 2010 ranking. Denmark's economy, hit by a real estate slump and growing unemployment, contracted slightly in 2010 and in the first quarter of 2011 as public and private consumption fell and the country entered recession, reported Bloomberg News.
  21. No. 11 Most Expensive City: Basel, Switzerland
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    No. 11 Most Expensive City: Basel, Switzerland

    Quick lunch: $31
    Beer at a bar: $10.99
    Kilogram of rice: $3.80
    Dozen eggs: $8.10
    Movie theater ticket: $18.80

    A major industrial and chemicals manufacturing area, Basel is home to large companies in pharmaceuticals, such as Novartis and Roche, and in agribusiness, such as Syngenta. This city on the Rhine is also an important center for financial services and is the headquarters location for banks such as UBS.
  22. No. 10 Most Expensive City: Bern, Switzerland
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    No. 10 Most Expensive City: Bern, Switzerland

    Quick lunch: $28.80
    Beer at a bar: $7.46
    Kilogram of rice: $4.70
    Dozen eggs: $8.40
    Movie theater ticket: $19.10

    Switzerland's capital, Bern is the center of Swiss government, the engineering industry, and the precision industry, as well as a manufacturing center for watches and other technology used in the medical, IT, and automotive sectors, according to the Bern Economic Development Agency. Branded watches such as Rolex, Longines, Swatch, and Rado are manufactured in the Canton of Bern.
  23. No. 9 Most Expensive City: Kobe, Japan
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    No. 9 Most Expensive City: Kobe, Japan

    Quick lunch: $15.60
    Beer at a bar: $8.69
    Kilogram of rice: $9.30
    Dozen eggs: $3.10
    Movie theater ticket: $20.80

    Kobe is one of Japan's busiest ports and a manufacturing center for appliances, food, and transportation equipment. The city offers many types of cuisine, though it's known best for high grade and pricey Kobe beef.
  24. No. 8 Most Expensive City: Geneva
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    No. 8 Most Expensive City: Geneva

    Quick lunch: $33.70
    Beer at a bar: $9.12
    Kilogram of rice: $4.70
    Dozen eggs: $8.60
    Movie theater ticket: $19.20

    Truly a global city, Geneva is home to such international organizations as the United Nations (which has an office in the city) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. An important center for banking, government, and technology, Geneva attracts many professional visitors, as well as tourists. It ranked as the third-best city in the world for quality of life in Mercer's 2010 report.
  25. No. 7 Most Expensive City: Luanda, Angola
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    No. 7 Most Expensive City: Luanda, Angola

    Quick lunch: $52.40
    Beer at a bar: $6.62
    Kilogram of rice: $4.60
    Dozen eggs: $5.20
    Movie theater ticket: $13.90

    Luanda was the most expensive city in the world in ECA International's 2009 ranking. Last year it slipped to third place, due to the depreciation of the kwanza, and this year it fell again, to No. 7. While the city has a high poverty rate, it remains one of the most expensive places for expatriates to maintain standards of living comparable to those in their home countries.
  26. No. 6 Most Expensive City: Zurich
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    No. 6 Most Expensive City: Zurich

    Quick lunch: $32.90
    Beer at a bar: $10.54
    Kilogram of rice: $3.70
    Dozen eggs: $7.90
    Movie theater ticket: $19.60

    The financial sector is an important part of Zurich's economy and the city is home to the Swiss Stock Exchange and companies such as Credit Suisse and Swiss Re. Zurich is also a major transportation hub. Mercer ranked the city second in the world for quality of life in 2010, but such a high standard of living does not come cheap: Zurich jumped to No. 6, from being the tenth-most-expensive city last year.
  27. No. 5 Most Expensive City: Yokohama, Japan
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    No. 5 Most Expensive City: Yokohama, Japan

    Quick lunch: $16.90
    Beer at a bar: $6.59
    Kilogram of rice: $4.20
    Dozen eggs: $2.50
    Movie theater ticket: $21.70

    Japan's second-largest city after Tokyo, Yokohama is easily reached from Tokyo by train. The port city is home to over 300 IT firms and has a growing biotechnology base, according to the city. Yokohama has nine main business districts and exports many cars and auto parts.
  28. No. 4 Most Expensive City: Stavanger, Norway
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    No. 4 Most Expensive City: Stavanger, Norway

    Quick lunch: $32.30
    Beer at a bar: $12.83
    Kilogram of rice: $5.70
    Dozen eggs: $6.80
    Movie theater ticket: $17.30

    Stavanger was mainly a fishing community until oil was found in the North Sea in the 1960s, transforming it into a major Norwegian city. Today, Norway is a leading oil exporter, with Statoil as the largest oil company in the Stavanger region. The industry has become central to the local economy and has attracted many residents from other countries.
  29. No. 3 Most Expensive City: Nagoya, Japan
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    No. 3 Most Expensive City: Nagoya, Japan

    Quick lunch: $19
    Beer at a bar: $11.37
    Kilogram of rice: $8.50
    Dozen eggs: $3.60
    Movie theater ticket: $21.80

    Nagoya is one of Japan's premier industrial and technological centers and is well known for its high quality of life and competitive business costs, according to the U.S. Commercial Service. Unlike Japan's other major cities, Nagoya was not significantly harmed by the global economic downturn and has maintained its growth.
  30. No. 2 Most Expensive City: Oslo
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    No. 2 Most Expensive City: Oslo

    Quick lunch: $45.20
    Beer at a bar: $13.18
    Kilogram of rice: $6.10
    Dozen eggs: $8.50
    Movie theater ticket: $18.80

    Norway's capital is a major hub for trade, shipping, and finance and is home to the Oslo Stock Exchange. Oslo has ranked among the world's most expensive cities for years, which is not surprising when a quick lunch costs about $45 and a dozen eggs, $8.50.
  31. No. 1 Most Expensive City: Tokyo
    31

    No. 1 Most Expensive City: Tokyo

    Quick lunch: $20.80
    Beer at a bar: $10.56
    Kilogram of rice: $9.80
    Dozen eggs: $4.50
    Movie theater ticket: $23.80

    Although the consumer price index in the Tokyo area has been falling since 2009, according to data from Japan's statistics bureau, the city remains the world's most expensive. While housing costs are not included in this survey, ECA International estimates that the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo stood at $4,352 in September.