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Brussels becomes costlier

Published on 21/06/2007

21 June 2007

BRUSSELS – European cities are becoming more expensive for expatriates, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer Human Resources Consulting.  London, climbing three places since last year, is in second place with Moscow maintaining the top position. Asuncion in Paraguay is the least expensive city for the fifth year running.

With New York as the base city scoring 100 points, Moscow scores 134.4 and is over two-and-a-half times costlier than Asuncion, which has an index of 50.

“The relative strength of the Euro and other European currencies, including the Swiss Franc and the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Krone, has pushed up the living costs faced by expatriates in many European countries,” said Yvonne Traber of  Mercer.

The strengthening of the Euro has resulted in a number of European cities moving significantly up the ranking this year. Amsterdam has climbed from a ranking of 41 to 25. Madrid and Barcelona in Spain have shifted from 53rd to 26th place and 56th to 31st place respectively.

Similar increases can be noted in Germany where all major cities moved up the ranking, most notably Berlin which climbed 27 places from a ranking of 72 to 45. Brussels moved 26 places from 70 to rank at 44. Not all cities experienced such a dramatic rise, such as Paris which only moved two places from 15th to 13th place.

Other costly European cities include Copenhagen in 6th place (110.2), Geneva in 7th (109.8) and Zurich in 9th (107.6). Oslo keeps its ranking of 10 with a score of 105.8 while Milan climbs two places to position 11 (104.4). Sofia in Bulgaria is Europe’s least expensive city, ranking at 108, with a score of 72.5.

Analysts attribute the shift to fluctuating exchange rates.

“There have been some significant changes in the ranking since last year. These are primarily due to exchange rate fluctuations – in particular, the weakening of the US Dollar and strengthening of the Euro,” said Mercer’s Rebecca Powers.

Powers said that “as companies continue to send employees on expatriate assignments, they must closely monitor changes in cost of living to ensure their expatriate compensation packages are fair and competitive.”

Moscow is the most expensive city in Europe and in the rest of the world, for the second year running, with a score of 134.4 (compared with 123.9 in 2006).

“The appreciation of the Rouble against the US Dollar, combined with ever-increasing accommodation charges, has driven up costs for expatriates in Moscow,” said Yvonne Traber.

Mercer’s survey covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news