Moscow, London Top Priciest Cities List

The Russian and British capitals lead a survey of the most expensive cities for expatriates, with 30 of the top 50 in Europe

Moscow and London are the world's most expensive cities for expatriates to live in, with Europe in general topping a fresh "cost of living" survey by Swiss-based consulting firm Mercer.

The Russian capital came top a second year running, followed by London, which jumped three places from 2006. Copenhagen, Geneva, Zurich and Oslo also made the top 10, together with mostly Japanese towns and Hong Kong.

The global top 50 saw 30 European cities named. Milan (11), St Petersburg (12), Paris (13) and Dublin (16) also scored high, with Dublin now just 0.4 percent less expensive than New York and pricier than Rome.

The EU capital, Brussels - home to some 80,000 EU officials, press and lobbyists - came in at 44, between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, climbing from 70 last year. Sofia was Europe's cheapest city, coming in at 108th place.

Mercer pinned the rise of European costs on the strength of the rouble, the British pound and the Nordic krone currencies. But steep hikes in accommodation prices - especially in Moscow and London - were also a factor.

"Steep property rental costs, together with the strengthening of the British pound... contributed to [London's] high ranking," Mercer's Yvonne Traber said. The 18 June study also tots up food, transport and "entertainment" costs.

By comparison, the firm's March 2007 "quality of life" ranking was dominated by Switzerland, Germany, Nordic countries, Australia, Canada and the US. London (39) and Brussels (14) did well, but Moscow fell outside the top 50.

"A city with a high quality of living index is a safe and stable one, but it may be lacking the dynamic je ne sais quoi that makes people want to live [there]," the preamble to the March survey said.

"Sometimes you need a little spice to make a city exciting. But that 'spice' may also give a city a lower ranking."

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