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Cities for the rich

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Think New York City is an expensive place to live? The cost of living in Zurich is 70 percent more expensive, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's worldwide cost-of-living survey.

Zurich surpassed Tokyo (66 percent more expensive than New York) as the most expensive city in the world in the latest twice-yearly survey, which tracks the prices of food, transportation, utilities, private schools and domestic help, among other expenses. Real estate prices are not included in the survey.

Switzerland and Japan continue their dominance on the list with Geneva and Osaka-Kobe tied for third place as most expensive. The U.S. doesn't make an appearance in the remaining top 10: The honors belong to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Singapore; Oslo, Norway; Frankfurt, Germany; and Paris. New York doesn't show up until No. 47 on the list, tied with Chicago.

The emergence of Asian and Australian cities to the top 10 is a recent development, according to the survey. The cost of living in Sydney, for example, was 25 percent cheaper than New York a decade ago and Singapore was 2 percent cheaper, as opposed to being 42 percent more expensive now. Currency movements, more so than inflation, are to blame for the higher costs, according to the survey.

The least expensive places to live are also outside the U.S., with Karachi, Pakistan, holding last place on the list. Mumbai and New Delhi, both in India, are also near the bottom, as well as Kathmandu, Nepal.

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