New “most expensive” cities list names Tokyo in top spot

The results for Mercer’s 2009 Cost of Living survey are out, and while there are some changes, most of the rankings for the most expensive cities are just about what you would expect. Moscow, Geneva, Zurich and Hong Kong are expensive (duh), as are Copenhagen, New York, Beijing and Singapore, which all took spots in the top ten. Japan took top (dis)honors with Tokyo and Osaka taking the number one and two spots, respectively. London dropped a whopping 13 spots to number 16.

Some big moves were made by Caracas, which shot up to number 15 from 89 last year, and Dubai, which jumped from the number 52 to number 20 spot. Several U.S. cities became significantly more expensive – at least, according to the rankings. Los Angeles moved from 55 to 23, White Plaines jumped from 89 to 31, San Francisco went from 78 to 34, Honolulu climbed from 77 to 41, and Miami rose from 75 to 45. My home city of Chicago rounded out the top 50 list (which has more than 50 cities on it because some are tied) as it moved up from being number 84 last year.

The survey takes into account the average cost of over 200 items in each city including food, housing, clothing, transportation, and entertainment. The survey compares 143 cities and uses New York, with a base score of 100, as the measuring stick. In the top spot with 143.7 points, Tokyo is nearly 1.5 times more expensive than New York.

The cheapest city? Johannesburg, South Africa, which replaced Asuncion in Paraguay.