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Old June 19 2007, 09:06 AM   #1
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Mumbai - costliest city for expats too

Soaring real estate prices are leaving a big hole in expatriates' pockets too, with Mumbai being ranked as the costliest city in India for them.

The cost of living for expats in the four major Indian cities - Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore - has increased over the past year primarily due to high real estate prices, says a new study by global human resources advisory and research firm Mercer HR Consulting.

According to the study released on Monday, Mumbai has jumped to 52nd position in the worldwide ranking from 68 last year, while New Delhi has moved up to 68th place from 73rd. Chennai moved up four ranks to 133, while Bangalore rose to 134 from 139th position last year.

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It was the rising property prices that pushed the Indian cities up the ranking, Mercer said.

The study has ranked the cities based on cost of basic necessities, including housing, transport and food among others during the 12-month period ending March 2007.

The list is topped by Moscow, which has retained its position as the costliest city for expats, followed by London, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong among the top five.

While London moved up from fifth rank last year. Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong moved down the rankings.

Even Beijing and Shanghai are costlier than the four Indian cities, while another Chinese city Tianjin is more expensive than Chennai and Bangalore but cheaper than Mumbai and New Delhi.

Another Chinese city Shenzhen is cheaper than Mumbai, but costlier than New Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

Interestingly, the Chinese cities have moved down the ranking, the study found, while the cost of international standard accommodation has pushed the cities elsewhere in Asia higher in the rankings.

A depreciation of 6 per cent in yuan against the euro, together with a low inflation rate and stable property rental prices, has kept the major Chinese cities from moving up the ranking.

The top 25 most expensive cities include Paris (13), Singapore (14), New York City (15), Beijing (20), Helsinki (22) and Amsterdam (25). Shanghai is ranked 26, while Shenzhen and Tianjin are ranked at 53 and 130 respectively.

The survey covered 143 cities across six continents and measured the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Mercer's principal consultant Rebecca Powers said the exchange rate fluctuations, in particular the weakening of the US dollar and strengthening of euro, have also caused significant changes in the rankings since last year.

As companies continue to send employees on expatriate assignments, they must closely monitor changes in cost of living to ensure their expatriate compensation packages are fair and competitive, she added.

Asuncion in Paraguay retained its position as the least expensive city for the fifth consecutive year, while cities like Karachi, Quito in Ecuador, Montevideo in Uruguay and Argentina's Buenos Aires were the other five least expensive cities.

 
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