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Denise McManus

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The cost of living rankings for October 2012 show Tokyo in Japan as the most expensive location for expatriate to reside in. According to Xpatulator there has been substantial movement this quarter with Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland ranking second and third, Luanda Angola as fourth and Hong Kong China fifth.

Tokyo is the most expensive location in the world overall taking all elements of the cost of living into account. It is the most expensive place for expatriates in that it is particularly costly for the items that consume the largest portion of an expatriates living costs. Household accommodation, which accounts for approximately 30% of a typical expatriate's budget is the fourth highest in the world in Tokyo (Hong Kong is still the most expensive for housing).

In Tokyo the benchmark rental for a secure up-market unfurnished apartment (3 bedrooms) is $6,293 in a central location, and $3,209 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities. The second most costly basket in Tokyo is groceries, which accounts for 16.5% of a typical expatriates budget, and ranks 5th most expensive in the world. Benchmark prices in a major international retail store in Tokyo for 1 kg apples is $7.08, 1 kg oranges $4.80, 1 kg potatoes $4.92, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast $11.91, 1 kg cheddar cheese $18.22, and 1 L full cream milk $2.73.

If the housing, education, medical and transport baskets are excluded from the cost of living calculation, then Luanda ranks first with Zurich and Geneva, in second and third, placing Tokyo as the fifth most expensive place to live and Hong Kong 108th. Tokyo drops dramatically in ranking when the most expensive basket group - housing is removed, making it overall a much cheaper expatriate prospect when housing is provided by the employer. Luanda is particularly expensive for clothing, groceries, recreation and culture, and restaurants and meals out. A pair of branded men's jeans costs approximately $113, a 1L full cream milk $2.93, a cinema ticket for 1 adult $13.17, a cappuccino $4.37 and a burger meal from an international franchise is $13.82.

Cost of Living Rankings for the Top Twenty-Five most expensive cities and regions to live in the world:

1. Japan, Tokyo: Asia-Pacific

2. Switzerland, Zurich: Europe

3. Switzerland, Geneva: Europe

4. Angola, Luanda: Africa

5. China, Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific

6. Venezuela, Caracas: Americas

7. Japan, Yokohama: Asia-Pacific

8. Japan, Osaka: Asia-Pacific

9. Japan, Nagoya: Asia-Pacific

10. Japan, Kobe: Asia-Pacific

11. Monaco, Monaco: Europe

12. Japan, Kyoto: Asia-Pacific

13. Japan, Kawasaki: Asia-Pacific

14. USA, New York (Manhattan) NY: Americas

15. Bermuda, Hamilton: Americas

16. United Kingdom, London: Europe

17. Norway, Oslo: Europe

18. Japan, Fukuoka: Asia-Pacific

19. Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby: Asia-Pacific

20. Singapore, Singapore: Asia-Pacific

21. Australia, Sydney: Asia-Pacific

22. Liechtenstein, Vaduz: Europe

23. Japan, Sapporo: Asia-Pacific

24. Denmark, Copenhagen: Europe

25. Russia, Moscow: Europe

Head of Client and Marketing Services, Denise McManus comments that: "Becoming an expatriate can be an exciting prospect but it can be overwhelming, you need to plan your move with the knowledge that your new salary will cover your cost of living and continue to maintain your standard of living. This is where we come in, we provide the information that multinational companies and the man on the street can use to calculate either what the cost will be to the company or the salary that the employee requires in the new location."

"Companies are deploying more and more employees to work in foreign countries than we have seen in the past. These companies therefore need to find cost effective ways of moving staff ensuring that they stay within their business strategy and budget and at the same time ensuring that the salaries offered reflect the difference in the cost of living between the home and host country. In these volatile markets and with the stunted economic growth in many countries this requires composite calculations to ensure that both company and employee are in a win-win situation. The Calculators we offer ensure that the employee is adequately compensated for and will therefore be agreeable to the move."

The cost of living rankings are released every quarter and measure the comparative cost of living for expatriates in 780 locations, covering every country worldwide. The cost of living comparison uses local prices for defined quantities of the same goods and services at or near each location, which is converted to a single currency. The prices are grouped together into baskets and the cost of living index calculated for each of these.

The Overall Most Expensive Cities to live per region are as follows:

The Americas: Caracas, Venezuela

Africa: Luanda, Angola

Asia-Pacific: Tokyo, Japan

The Middle East: Doha, Qatar

Europe: Zurich, Switzerland

The Top Ten Cheapest Cities Include:

1. Bhutan, Thimphu

2. Tunisia, Tunis

3. Tajikistan, Dushanbe

4. Romania, Bucharest

5. Bulgaria, Sofia

6. Nepal, Kathmandu

7. Democratic Republic of Korea, Pyongyang

8. India, Calcutta

9. Nicaragua, Managua

10. Cambodia, Phnom Penh

For the full free list go to the Xpatulator cost of living ranking page.

Rate this article:
Denise McManus is the Head of Client and Marketing at which is the most comprehensive source of international cost of living information. We provide free international cost of living overviews and rank information covering 13 cost of living baskets and every country around the world as well as premium content calculators.
Important NoticeDISCLAIMER: All information, content, and data in this article are sole opinions and/or findings of the individual user or organization that registered and submitted this article at without any fee. The article is strictly for educational or entertainment purposes only and should not be used in any way, implemented or applied without consultation from a professional. We at do not, in anyway, contribute or include our own findings, facts and opinions in any articles presented in this site. Publishing this article does not constitute's support or sponsorship for this article. is an article publishing service. Please read our Terms of Service for more information.

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MLA Style Citation:
McManus, Denise "Tokyo Takes Number One Spot As Most Expensive For Expatriates." Tokyo Takes Number One Spot As Most Expensive For Expatriates. 16 Oct. 2012 24 Feb. 2018 <>.
APA Style Citation:
McManus, Denise (2012, October 16). Tokyo Takes Number One Spot As Most Expensive For Expatriates. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from
Chicago Style Citation:
McManus, Denise "Tokyo Takes Number One Spot As Most Expensive For Expatriates." Tokyo Takes Number One Spot As Most Expensive For Expatriates
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