Singapore, June 17 (Reuters): Tokyo has replaced Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city, according to a lifestyle survey which also showed the gap between the world’s costliest and cheapest cities narrowing for a sixth straight year.
Moscow held steady in second place, followed by the western Japanese city of Osaka, which went up three places from 2002. At the other end, Asuncion, capital of Paraguay, replaced Johannesburg as the cheapest city in the world.
Tokyo, where taxi fares start at 660 yen ($5.61) despite four years of wealth-destroying deflation, was 26 per cent more expensive than New York City, which ranked tenth.
The survey of 144 cities was carried out by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
“The depreciation of the US dollar against the euro, high inflation and economic recession in many countries have modified the scores of a number of cities,” said a senior Mercer researcher.
The cost of living in Geneva surged, pushing the Swiss city to sixth place from 28 in 2002, while Singapore tumbled eight places to 32 from 24.
Mercer said the gulf between those at the top and bottom of the pile had narrowed by four percentage points in the 12 months to March this year.
The survey uses New York as the base city with a score of 100 points.
, measures the comparative cost of housing, food, clothing, household products, transport and entertainment.
Asuncion has an index of 36.5 points while Tokyo is about three-and-a-half-times costlier at 126.1 points.
London, Copenhagen and Milan remained as the EU’s costliest cities while New York held steady as North America’s most expensive at position 10.
European cities on the whole moved up the ranks due to the strengthening of the euro against the US dollar, Mercer said.
Of the top 20 costliest cities, half are Asian. Hong Kong fell to fourth place from first last year, followed by Beijing in fifth place. Seoul was the world's eighth most expensive city.
Australia stayed relatively cheap, with only Sydney making it to the top 100 list at 67.
Harare in Zimbabwe took the biggest plunge, plummeting to a ranking of 143 from 26 due to a severe depreciation of its currency.