A loaf of bread in Zurich costs $6.06




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The price of bread in the world’s
most and least expensive cities

5 February 2013: At the beginning of 2013, Tokyo has firmly established itself as the world’s most expensive city. Three out of four organisations, that conduct annual research into the cost of living in cities across the world, agree for the first time that the Japanese capital is now more expensive for expatriates than either Zurich or Oslo. Only the Swiss bank UBS still maintains that Oslo and Zurich are more expensive than Tokyo. In its latest research, the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) says Tokyo, Osaka and Sydney are the three costliest cities in the world. Mercer opts for Tokyo, Luanda and Osaka, while ECA names Tokyo, Oslo and Geneva.

Of course, the fundamental flaw of all research of this kind is that local prices are converted into US dollars. As such, any changes are more the result of currency fluctuations than of actual higher prices. The EIU admits as much when it says in its 2013 report that the fall of Zurich and the rise of Tokyo in its cost-of-living table was due to Switzerland’s efforts to weaken the franc. During 2012 the Swiss franc weakened considerably more against the US dollar than the Japanese yen.

The reports are published for the benefit of global companies who use the data to award appropriate remuneration packages to their overseas operatives. Most of the research is carried out locally and the raw findings are later translated into US dollars, which means that any changes are as much the result of currency fluctuations as of price inflation. For example according to all four surveys, the cost of living in European cities becomes less expensive if the dollar strengthens even when local prices remain unchanged.

The 10 most expensive cities
according to Mercer, UBS, ECA and EIU
Rank
Mercer (2013)
UBS (2012)
ECA (2011)
EIU (2013)
1
Luanda Oslo Tokyo Tokyo
2
Moscow Zurich Oslo Osaka
3
Tokyo Tokyo Geneva Sydney
4
N’Djamena Geneva Nagoya Oslo
5
Singapore Copenhagen Zurich Melbourne
6
Hong Kong New York City Yokohama Singapore
7
Geneva Luxembourg Bern Zurich
8
Zurich Stockholm Stavanger Paris
9
Bern Caracas Basel Caracas
10
Sydney London Kobe Geneva
The fundamental flaw of all cost-of-living surveys is that they convert local prices into US dollars, which means that any changes are as much the result of currency fluctuations as of price inflation. In surveys by ECA, UBS, Mercer and EIU the cost of living in cities outside the US dollar zone becomes more expensive if the dollar weakens against local currencies even when prices remain unchanged or indeed fall. Probably the most useful figures are those by UBS because the also examine income and purchasing power. The research by ECA, Mercer and EIU is for the benefit of US employees sent abroad by their companies.

The EIU survey also provides some information on the prices of everyday items such as bread, petrol and cigarettes. The research reveals that one kilo of bread costs most in Caracas, while it is cheapest in Mumbai.

The cost of bread in the most and
least expensive cities in the world

Ten most
expensive cities
Price of 1kg of bread
in US$ in 2013
In 2012
In 2008
Tokyo
9.06
9.64
6.44
Osaka
7.94
8.00
4.54
Sydney
5.03
5.05
3.33
Oslo
6.31
6.11
4.25
Melbourne
4.87
5.36
3.18
Singapore
3.25
3.46
2.67
Zurich
6.08
7.95
5.52
Paris
8.95
10.10
6.17
Caracas
9.40
7.80
2.25
Geneva
5.63
7.08
4.87
Ten least
expensive cities
Price of 1kg of bread
in US$ in 2013
In 2012
In 2008
Tehran
1.55
1.43
0.24
Jeddah
1.33
1.30
1.10
Panama City
3.34
3.09
1.95
Colombo
2.27
2.27
1.17
Bucharest
1.92
2.97
2.31
Algiers
1.89
1.90
2.35
Kathmandu
1.21
1.13
0.81
New Delhi
1.11
1.13
0,88
Mumbai
0.68
1.17
0.95
Karachi
1.76
1.88
1.86
Research by the Economist Intelligence Unit




Related research

THE MOST EXPENSIVE AND RICHEST CITIES IN THE WORLD

UBS survey (2012): Most expensiv and richeste cities (Intro) | World's most expensive cities (table) | Richest cities by personal earnings (table) | Richest cities by purchasing power (table | The iPod index |

ECA International survey (2011): Introduction | Table: World | Table: Europe | Table: Asia |

Mercer survey (2013): Most expensive cities

EIU survey (2013): Most expensive cities

RICHEST CITIES BY GDP
Introduction | 150 richest cities in 2005 | 150 richest cities in 2020 | Europe's richest cities |



If you think your mayor is among the best in the world, nominate him or her now for the 2014 World Mayor Prize


World Mayor 2014:
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The City Mayors Foundation invites you to nominate a candidate for the 2014 World Mayor Prize. The Prize is awarded every two years to a mayor who has made outstanding contributions to his / her community and has developed a vision for urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world.

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