Living in NYC, you get a lot of unsolicited commentary about how it's the most expensive city in the world. Of course, we know that's not true — Tokyo, for one, comes to mind — but we thought our humble town would at least make the top 20! No luck for New York, though, or any other North American city. Japan's capital (and the largest metro area on earth) has held the top spot for years since the early '90s, but the rest of this year's list, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, had us floored.
Japan gets a second mention with Osaka in the number two spot, followed by Sydney, Oslo, and Melbourne. (Staggeringly, only 10 years ago, there wasn't a single Australian city on this list.) Standard players like Singapore, Paris, and Zurich made it on as well, joined by lesser-known pricey spots like Caracas, Venezuela. New York and L.A., on the other hand, were tied for 27th place. At least we know we've got something in common with our West Coast brethren! The only North American metro to even come close was Vancouver, at number 21. As for the cheapest hoods? Mumbai, India and Karachi, Pakistan.
Obviously, it's hard to make any kind of comparison between cities. The annual Cost of Living Index takes into account a number of factors and weights them appropriately, so it's not just based on dollar (or Yen, or Euro) amount, but also includes, for example, what percentage of salary is spent on rent. For more info on the methodology, check out the EIU website — but beware, you may find yourself reliving the nightmarish days of word problems in math class.
Maybe we're behind the times, but this comes as kind of a shock. More than anything, we're mourning the poor, cash-strapped citizens in Sydney, Tokyo, and the like. NYC and L.A. still feel pretty darn expensive, and if we're that far down the list, we don't even want to know what they're paying for rent overseas. (Reuters)
Tokyo street style, photographed by Stacey Young.