Seoul more expensive than Tokyo, London, and New York?


I definitely believe it.  Seoul has just been ranked the second most-expensive city in the world, after Moscow, Russia, according to a survey recently released by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.  The survey ranked the world’s 144 most expensive cities.  The top ten most expensive cities this year are (with 2005 ranking in parentheses):
  1. Moscow, Russia (4)
  2. Seoul, Korea (5)
  3. Tokyo, Japan (1)
  4. Hong Kong, China (9)
  5. London, England (3)
  6. Osaka, Japan (2)
  7. Geneva, Switzerland (6)
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark (8)
  9. Zurich, Switzerland (7)
  10. New York, USA (13) and Oslo, Norway (10)

So there you have it.  If you live in Seoul and wonder why it seems so darn expensive to live here, now you know why.  This is especially true if you live on a U.S. military base with subsidized pricing where tax-free goods are even cheaper than they are in the U.S.  Living in Seoul is more expensive than living in Switzerland, apparently.  Much of the fluctuation is due to currency movements, but it also has to do with recent housing booms in both Moscow and Seoul. 

When you juxtapose these survey results against the fact that yesterday marked the 56th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, you can’t help but be amazed by how far Seoul–and Korea–has come in just 53 years since the ceasefire was signed.  Still, Seoul has a long way to go to match the quality of life in many other cities around the world.  It doesn’t even rank in the top 50 worldwide for best quality of life.  This recognition is reserved primarily for Swiss and German cities, which captured six of 10 top ten cities based on quality of life (I believe the results are skewed–under no circumstances would I rank Frankfurt, Germany the 7th best city in terms of quality of life, especially considering that Munich is right behind it, ranked 8th.

Personally, I see one silver lining in this survey.  Asuncion, Paraguay, our next destination, is the world’s least expensive city ranked globally by Mercer.  I think I’ll wait to buy things in Paraguay.

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