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World's most expensive cities
Survey: Tokyo and Osaka take top spots, followed by London, Moscow and Seoul.
June 22, 2005: 2:40 PM EDT
Click here for the full list

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) It's hard to make New Yorkers feel good about the absurd amounts of money required to live comfortably in Gotham. But a survey out this week might at least make them feel a little better.

That's because Tokyo continues to earn the dubious distinction of being the world's most expensive city to live in, according to a survey released this week by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

No. 2 on the list is Osaka, another major Japanese city, which moved up from its fourth place ranking last year.

Osaka's ascent pushed London to No. 3, and Moscow to No. 4.

Coming in fifth is Seoul, which ascended two spots from its position in last year's survey.

As for New York, it fell one spot in the rankings to No. 13 on a worldwide basis, tying it with Dublin.

But New York still ranks No. 1 in North America, followed by Los Angeles, which ranks No. 44 on a worldwide basis, White Plains, N.Y. which ranks No. 45, and San Francisco which ranks No. 50.

Mercer conducts the survey to help multinational companies and governments determine how much to pay their expatriate employees. The survey includes 144 cities across the world, and measures costs including housing, food, clothing, transportation and entertainment.

So, if your company is shipping you off to Tokyo and you're negotiating compensation, you might remind them that a luxury two-bedroom apartment unfurnished might cost you $4,595 a month.

And you also might remind them that with coffee running at over $4 a cup, there is some risk you'll be less productive due to loss of caffeine unless you're adequately paid.

If you're making a move domestically, and you're interested in finding the place where your dollar will go the farthest, try Winston Salem, N.C., which is the least expensive U.S. city surveyed and ranks No. 119 on a worldwide basis. Heading north, Ottawa will provide you with the most bang for your buck in North America.

If you head south to South America, you'll encounter some of the world's least expensive cities due to the lingering effects of the devaluation of the Argentine currency in 2002 and subsequent financial crisis, Mercer said. Asuncion, Paraguay, again ranks as the world's least expensive city, according to the survey. It is closely preceded by Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Caracas.

To see Mercer's full list of cities by rank, click on the graphic above.  Top of page

graphic


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