By Irene E. Molua, Copenhagen, Denmark
Fasten your belt! The Global World Cost of Living Rankings have revealed Douala in Cameroon to be the most expensive city in Africa. Douala outpaced Johannesburg and Durban in rich South Africa. The cost of living in Douala dwarfs that in Abidjan (26th position) Cairo (97th), Dakar (36th) and Lagos (96th). Interestingly, the cost of living in Douala, Cameroon wrestles to the ground that of Chicago and Washington DC (USA), Berlin (Germany), and cities in Singapore, Taiwan and China.
These findings were released by an international organisation, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, one of the world’s leading consulting organizations. Mercer Inc. helps employers create measurable business results through their people and has more than 13,000 employees serving clients in about 150 cities in 40 countries worldwide. Mercer’s survey covers 144 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. “Currency fluctuations and exchange rates can have a huge impact on how much expatriates receive and what they can buy with that money,” commented Yvonne Sonsino, an official at Mercer.
Based on the 2005/2006 survey, Tokyo remains the world’s most expensive city, followed by Osaka. New York remains the most expensive city in North America, at 13th position in the rankings. While Douala ranks 22nd, other costly cities include Los Angeles ranked 44, San Francisco in 50th place and Chicago in 52nd position. Washington DC takes 78th place. Winston Salem is the cheapest US city surveyed, ranked 119th.
London remains the most expensive city in Europe. Steep accommodation and transport costs together with the appreciation of the pound against the US dollar have contributed to the city’s high ranking. Moscow is the second most expensive city in Europe ranked in 4th position, followed by Geneva in 6th place and Zurich (Switzerland) in 7th place. Other high-scoring cities include Copenhagen ranked 8th, Oslo which has moved up from 15th to 10th place due mainly to the appreciation of the Norwegian Krone against the US dollar, and Milan ranked 11th.
Four of the world’s ten costliest cities are in Asia, with Tokyo being the most expensive city globally. Osaka takes 2nd position due to the strengthening of the Japanese Yen relative to the US dollar, followed by Seoul in 5th place and Hong Kong ranked 9th. Chinese cities have dropped significantly in the rankings as the currency is pegged to the US dollar and has therefore been affected by its depreciation,” said Ms Sepede at Mercer Inc.. Beijing is at position 19 followed by Shanghai in 30th place (90.4).
Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, though outpaced by Douala, move up in the rankings this year to positions 69 and 76 respectively due to the significant appreciation of the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar. Sydney (Australia) is still the most expensive city in the region at 20th place with a score of 95.2. Other high-scoring cities in Australia include Melbourne in 68th position and Brisbane in 84th place.