Most of 10 cheapest cities were in South Asia with Mumbai and New Delhi also in the bottom 10, while the Sri Lankan capital Colombo came in 114th, in the bottom 20, revealed the new global survey published on Thursday.
“Despite the rise of India as a growing emerging-market economy, the low cost of living in cities continues to reflect the fact that the subcontinent remains a comparatively cheap place to live and work,” the survey said.
Tokyo took the “dubious” honour of the world’s most expensive city, a title it has held for much of the past two decades, with Osaka ranking third.
“Low inflation and poor consumer confidence have persisted in Japan, but the yen has strengthened significantly over the last two years, pushing Tokyo back to the top of the ranking last year,” the survey said.
“This year the cost of living has increased further in Tokyo, despite the human and economic cost of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Tokyo in March and the subsequent nuclear reactor scare in Fukushima.”
Despite ongoing debt fears and weakness in the Eurozone, the survey said the top 10 most expensive has “a familiar European flavour” and includes Oslo, Paris, Geneva, Zurich and Frankfurt.
The soaring Australian dollar has turned the country’s four biggest cities into some of the most expensive locations in the world. Sydney and Melbourne are now the sixth and seventh most expensive cities on the planet.
More significantly Perth and Brisbane, major regional centres closest to the country’s booming coal and iron ore mines, rose to 13 and 14 respectively.
“Ten years ago Sydney was ranked 71st and Melbourne 80th, while Perth was ranked 91st and Brisbane was 93rd,” the survey said.
“This is the culmination of a remarkable rise in the cost of living in Australian cities over the last decade, a period in which the value of the Australian dollar has moved from around 50 US cents to passing parity with the US dollar earlier this year.”
Insatiable demand in Asia for raw materials to make steel has seen commodity prices return to highs from before the 2008 global financial crisis.
It is now cheaper to live in London, Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong and Beijing than most Australian cities.