Cost of Life Index for Expats, February 2013: Tokyo Costs Plummet, China Roars Ahead

Expatistan, the largest free cost-of-living database on the Internet, has just released its ranking of living costs for 112 cities worldwide. Tokyo has shown a dramatic decrease in the cost of living, Chinese cities have shown a steady, strong rise.
Feb. 5, 2013 - PRLog -- Expatistan (, the largest free cost-of-living database on the Internet, has just released its February 2013 ranking of living costs for 112 cities worldwide. Their most startling findings are that Tokyo – which has long held the title as the most expensive city in the world – has shown a dramatic decrease in the cost of living as compared to other cities. At the same time, Chinese cities have shown a steady, strong rise in the cost of living over the past 18 months. The trend in Latin America is mixed, with some specific cities increasing in the rankings.

Using Prague as a benchmark, Expatistan assigns a point value of 100 for that city for comparison against all other cities. Against that benchmark, the February 2013 rankings show that Tokyo fell from 291 points (2.91 times more expensive than Prague) in July 2012 to just 212 points. Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (increasingly integrated with China, politically and economically) have all shown double-digit ranking increases. Hong Kong reached the top 10 most expensive cities for the first time since Expatistan began gathering its data in January 2010, with a score of 213 points, up 40 over the past 12 months.

Other than the rise of Hong Kong into their ranks, the top 12 most expensive cities in the world, scoring 200 points or more, have remained constant, with just minor adjustments in their order. The new leader, Oslo, scoring 266, has long been in the top tier, as have been Geneva, Zurich, London, Sydney, Singapore and New York City. Just one step down – and not that far – are such cities as Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The top 20 most expensive cities as calculated by are:

1. Oslo (Norway)
2. Geneva (Switzerland)
3. Zurich (Switzerland)
4. London (United Kingdom)
5. Sydney (Australia)
6. Singapore (Singapore)
7. Melbourne (Australia)
8. Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
9. Tokyo (Japan)
10. Perth (Australia).
11. New York City (United States)
12. Brisbane (Australia)
13. Paris (France)
14. Stockholm (Sweden)
15. Amsterdam (Netherlands)
16. Copenhagen (Denmark)
17. San Francisco (United States)
18. Washington D.C. (United States)
19. Dublin (Ireland)
20. Adelaide (Australia)

A complete ranking of all 112 cities ranked by is available online on Expatistan's website (

Remaining constant with previous years, the least expensive cities in the world are in South Asia, including Hyderabad, Kolka, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi, all in India, plus Karachi, Pakistan. Eastern European cities, particularly in Poland, Romania and Ukraine, also score well below 100, as do several cities in Argentina. Surprisingly, Bogotá and Caracas rose by double digits in the past 18 months, scoring more than 100 points.

When examined by region, the comparative cost of living has remained fairly stable since the last Expatistan report in July 2012. Even with economic and political troubles in the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe, the rankings – both relative to the benchmark and within the regions – have not changed appreciably. In North America, there has been a slightly downward drift in the cost of living in many cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Outside of China, the cost of living in most of the cities in East Asia and Australia has also remained stable.

Founded in January 2010 by Gerardo Robledillo, Expatistan is an Internet website that provides up-to-date cost of living comparisons for nearly 1,400 cities worldwide. The site gathers prices for a basket of 45 products in six categories (food, housing, clothing, transportation, health and entertainment). It gathers these prices from its users, now numbering more than 135,000, keeping a database of more than a half million specific prices. Using Prague as an anchor, assigning a base value of 100, Expatistan provides a relative cost of living for each of the other cities in its database. If there is not sufficient dependable data for a particular city, it is not listed. This model avoids incomplete and possibly misleading comparisons from being made.

The site is offered free of charge. Users can compare the cost of living between a city with which they are familiar and another to which they may be moving. Accurate information on items in the economic basket is also gathered from users. Downloads of the full current rankings are available in different formats on request. Other information on the cost of living in cities throughout the world, such as city-specific information or rankings by types of costs (such as housing) is also available from on request. The site also provides a blog offering news and advice for expats living and working outside their native countries. For more information on Expatistan, please contact Mr. Robledillo at
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