September 01, 2006

Moscow The Expensive

Long-time Muscovites and limited-term expats alike can complain for hours about the high cost of living in Moscow. Yet, when they do, they are talking about two different cities. 

The first is the Moscow of temporary business visitors and affluent expatriates. This Moscow has replaced Tokyo as the world’s most expensive city, according to the annual cost of living survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Mercer’s survey measures the comparative cost of living for expatriate workers in 144 cities worldwide, and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their employees. From fourth place in Mercer’s 2005 ranking, Moscow leap-frogged Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong to claim the top spot.

Moscow’s rating rose primarily due to soaring property prices, according to Anna Krotova, senior researcher at Mercer. Rent for a two-bedroom, luxury apartment in downtown Moscow can cost $3,000, compared to $2,975 in London and $3,497 in New York. Moscow also apparently boasts the most expensive coffee – at $5.37, according to Mercer. A lunch for five people may cost upwards of $80.

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