Angola's Luanda beats Tokyo as priciest expat city

Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:09pm EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The capital of oil-rich but poverty-stricken Angola is the world's most expensive city for expatriates, according to a new cost of living survey that also showed other developing African and Asian cities were among the priciest in the world.

Luanda knocked the Japanese capital Tokyo off the top of this year's Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. Tokyo, regularly rated as one of the world's most expensive cities, was in the second slot while Ndjamena, the capital of impoverished, violence-ridden Chad, came in third.

The survey, which covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative costs of more than 200 items in each location, said developing cities were actually more expensive for expats to live in than Western cities such as New York or Washington D.C., usually viewed as being pricey.

"Many people assume that cities in the developing world are cheap but this isn't necessarily true for expatriates working there," Mercer senior researcher Nathalie Constantin-Metral said in a statement.

"In some African cities, the cost of this can be extraordinarily high -- particularly the cost of good, secure accommodation," she said.

"We've seen demand increase for information on African cities from across the business spectrum -- mining, financial services, airlines, manufacturers, utilities and energy companies."

The ranking is based on the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York is used as the base city for the index and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Based on these criteria, three African cities -- Luanda, Ndjamena and Libreville in Gabon at seven -- were among the 10 priciest cities for the first time, reflecting the increasing economic importance of this region across all business sectors.   Continued...

<p>Office buildings under construction stand behind the Angolan central bank building in the capital, Luanda, in this January 20, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings</p>