Ashgabat remains most expensive city for expats – Cost of Living Index

TASS Russian News Agency | Jul 3, 2020 at 9:10 PM

LONDON, July 3. /TASS/. The capital of Turkmenistan continues to be the world's most expensive city for expats and visitors, while Moscow and St. Petersburg remained relatively stable in ECA's cost of living rankings, according to the Cost of Living Index survey carried out by ESA International on 480 cities and published on Friday.

Ashgabat tops the rating, followed by two Swiss cities - Zurich and Geneva that traditionally are in the top 10 most expensive locations. The others are Switzerland's Basel (4) and Bern (5). Hong Kong is ranked 6th, Tokyo 7th, Israel's Tel Aviv - 8th and Jerusalem - 9th, with Yokohama in Japan -10th.

Factor of the weakened ruble

As for the two Russian cities in the survey - Moscow and St. Petersburg, their positions remained stable compared to last year. The Russian capital rose five places to 115th and was ranked the 25th most expensive location in Europe. St. Petersburg's position stayed flat at 172nd in the world and at 51st in Europe.

ECA International that captured the data in late February and early March cannot rule out that the two cities will drop in the ratings in future surveys due to the weakened ruble amid falling oil prices.

"Russian cities have remained relatively stable in ECA's cost of living rankings in the last year with St Petersburg staying flat at 172nd and Moscow rising five places to 115th. However, the recent drop in the price of oil has led to a weakened ruble meaning that Russian cities will be cheaper for expatriates and visitors in future surveys if this is sustained," Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International, told TASS.

The survey says that Chinese and South Korean locations have all dropped in the ranking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing dropped from 15th to 24th in the global ranking, while Seoul dropped nine places and out of the top 10 to 17th.

Nevertheless, North American locations are getting more expensive for visitors and expats, since the value of the US and Canadian currencies has been pushed up. Two years ago only 10 North American locations featured in the top 100. In 2020, ECA's report shows 29 US and Canadian cities in the top 100 most expensive locations in the world.

The survey says "a medium cappuccino in a cafe in Central London would cost GBP 2.84, meanwhile in New York it would cost GBP 3.53; a 100g bar of chocolate purchased in Central London would cost GBP 1.69, and GBP 2.81 in New York."

Iran's capital Tehran is ranked as the cheapest location in ECA's global Cost of Living report. Costs in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, continue to rise. Thanks to the recovery in the Egyptian pound and a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Cairo moved up 42 places to 193rd in the global cost of living ranking.

Methods of research

ECA International's cost of living surveys use a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by an average expat. Experts compare costs on food, like groceries, dairy produce, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables. Household and recreational goods, general and leisure services, clothing, electrical goods, alcohol and tobacco are also covered in the survey.

The research does not include some living costs, like accommodation rental, utilities charges (electricity, gas, and water) and school fees.