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Harare most expensive city for expats, Tokyo slips-study

Written by: Staff

SINGAPORE, Dec 5 (Reuters) Zimbabwe's capital Harare ranks as the world's most expensive city for expatriates due largely to the country's soaring inflation, and displacing Oslo and Tokyo from the top slots, a human resources firm said today.

Resource-rich African countries climbed up the world rankings due to a commodities boom, a survey by ECA International showed, with Angola's Luanda and the Congo Democratic Republic's Kinshasa in second and fifth place respectively, while Scandinavian cities Oslo and Copenhagen remained among the top seven.

''Zimbabwe had massive inflation of 1,700 percent,'' Lee Quane, general manager of ECA International, told Reuters.

''Although the currency has depreciated, there was a huge increase in the cost of living for Harare,'' he said. Harare was the 57th most expensive city for expatriates in the 2005 survey.

Seoul, which was the most expensive city in Asia, ranked as the eighth-most expensive worldwide, up from tenth place in the previous year. Cities in Japan fell in the global rankings mainly because of a sharply weaker yen, with Tokyo dropping to tenth place this year from third place in 2005.

''Taiwan, Tokyo and Hong Kong have all fallen due to currency movements, even though the price of goods and services has actually increased,'' said Quane.

Consumer prices in Japan are expected to keep rising, but only slowly, following more than seven years of deflation.

However, costs in both Seoul and Singapore were higher due to stronger currencies. The won has gained more than 9 per cent since the end of 2005 against the US dollar while the Singapore dollar has risen nearly 8 per cent.

Quane said Seoul, which took the top spot as Asia's most expensive city for expatriates for the second year in a row, had seen a double-impact from a stronger currency and higher costs of goods and services.

The gap between first-tier and second-tier Chinese cities is likely to narrow over the next few years, Quane said, as international companies move further inland in search of new markets.

Quane added that exchange rates, rather than inflationary factors, were among the main factors behind the movements in ECA's latest survey.

''High oil prices haven't really had a huge inflationary effect,'' he said.

The ECA International cost of living survey takes into account 125 economic factors such as the cost of luxury goods, restaurant meals and grocery costs for items commonly purchased by expatriates in over 250 locations worldwide.

It aims to capture day-to-day expenses for expatriates and does not include certain living costs such as accommodation, utilities and school fees which are often included as part of an expatriate's package.

The world's 10 most expensive cities for expatriates: City Country (position in 2005 survey) 1 Harare Zimbabwe (57) 2 Luanda Angola (2) 3 Oslo Norway (1) 4 Moscow Russia (8) 5 Kinshasa Congo Democratic Republic (15) 6 Stavanger Norway (5) 7 Copenhagen Denmark (7) 8 Seoul South Korea (10) 9 Libreville Gabon (12) 10 Tokyo Japan (3) The 10 most expensive cities for expatriates in Asia: 1 Seoul South Korea 2 Tokyo Japan 3 Yokohama Japan 4 Kobe Japan 5 Hong Kong Hong Kong 6 Taipei Taiwan 7 Port Moresby Papua New Guinea 8 Beijing China 9 Shanghai China 10 Singapore Singapore REUTERS SHB RK0958

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