World's most expensive cities

Oslo leads the pack with other European cities moving up fast. Tehran is cheapest.

By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Dying to see Paris, London and other European cites? Better get there while you can still afford it.

According to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey released Monday by the Economist Group, European cities have taken over as the world's most expensive.

The top 10 most expensive world cities
Where the cost of living is highest.
City Nation Index (New York is 100)
Oslo Norway 134
Paris France 130
Copenhagen Denmark 126
London United Kingdom 125
Tokyo Japan 124
Osaka Japan 118
Reykjavic Iceland 118
Zurich Switzerland 118
Frankfurt Germany 116
Helsinki Finland 116
Source:The Economist Group

Paris, Copenhagen and London have all joined Oslo - which retained the No. 1 slot it took last year - in surpassing Tokyo.

The survey compares the cost of a basket of 160 goods and services in 132 countries. Everything from tobacco to toothpaste to theater is considered.

The survey assigns New York a base index number of 100 and compares the prices of goods there to the prices in other cities. Thus, Oslo, at an index of 132, is 32 percent more expensive than New York. Paris scores a 130, Copenhagen 126 and London 125. Tokyo, at 124, was the fifth costliest city.

Because New York is the base, the strengthening euro played a big role in this year's rankings, according to Jon Copestake, the survey's editor. The euro has gained nearly 10 percent versus the dollar during the past year. Last winter, a euro traded for about $1.20. Today the exchange rate is more than $1.30.

"But prices in Europe are also rising whereas those in Japan have been almost static," added Copestake.

American cities have become relatively more affordable over the past year as the dollar weakened against the euro and some other world currencies. Living in Moscow (index level: 101) is now only slightly more dear than New York. The least expensive major American city, Atlanta (71), is now less expensive to live in than some Latin American cities, which otherwise have some of the most affordable destinations.

The lowest priced city surveyed was Tehran. Its score of 34 meant that the cost of living there was about a quarter of what it would be in Oslo.

The eight least expensive cities on the list were all in Asia, but Latin America also accounted for a quarter of the bottom 32 cities with Asuncion the cheapest. Prices there are roughly half of what they are in New York.

Guatemala (index level: 80) was the most expensive Latin city; Sydney (106) in Oceania; Vancouver (96) in Canada; and Abidjian (89) in Africa.