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London - Most expensive city??

Is London the "most expensive city in the world"? I've seen this written, but I doubted whether it's true. The Guardian and others in June placed it second, based on a report from Mercer Human Resources(table). The BBC on 12th August placed it 6th.

Why the difference? The widely-reported June statistics are for expatriates working in various cities and include the cost of renting a luxury two bedroom flat, as well as transport, clothing, food, entertainment. The BBC figures are for a basket of products including cars, CDs, cinema tickets ...

Conclusion? Neither of the statistical sources is accurate for a visitor to London, who will be staying in a hotel and won't be buying a car. Neither of the statistical sources is accurate for a Londoner who will likely buy or rent accommodation in the suburbs. And all the rankings are going to vary wildly as exchange rates fluctuate. London IS expensive for most people - but just *how* expensive depends on what they're doing in London and whether they're prepared to "go native" - use public transport, live out of town, or not.
(written 2004-08-14, updated 2008-05-10)

Commentatorsays ...
Becky:This article does not do the cost of London justice. I am from New York, often considered the pinacle of expensive cities and, after living here in London for almost two years, I can surely attest that it is MUCH more expensive than New York. And I've "gone native." I live in Ealing. I don't have a car. I rarely go out to eat. I walk to work, so I don't have to pay regularly for the tube (which is about two to three times the price of the New York subway). I NEVER EVER take cabs. So I'm going back to New York!!!!!
(comment added 2004-11-21 19:34:24)
Graham:Hi, Becky ... the two articles I cited placed London at different positions in the "league table" and I was drawing a contrast between them, and between the the baskets of prices they quoted and other prices they could have quoted - in other words, there's no simple answer.

I was brought up in the London area and honestly can't remember ever using a taxi. The tube, yes, but only for the longer journeys; I was in London last week (staying in a hotel in this case, walking and enjoying the walk to Oxford Street and to Highbury). I was disappointed at the high hotel prices, delighted at the good (cheap) lunches available in the Highbury Corner area. Like I say, no simple answer.

You've listed things that you didn't buy because they were too expensive - what did you find expensive and still have to buy? Flat / house rental? Food basics? I think in general Europe in general is much more expensive in food basics than the USA in general but you'll always find exceptions and a complex picture that no 1 article or shor twriting can do justice to.

Sorry that you're going back to New York, and sorry that it's based on the cost of living; certainly, the USA has a higher standard of living in general than the UK. Wishing you all the best.
(comment added 2004-11-21 23:24:41)
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