Whether you’re a penny-pincher or a dollar-stretcher, or just overall feeling a bit light in the wallet, you’ll probably want to cross Japan off your list of travel destinations. Two Japanese cities, Tokyo and Osaka, have topped this year’s list of the most expensive places in the world.
In a report released this week by the Economist Intelligent Unit, the two cities top the chart of the priciest places to live. It’s a ranking that shouldn’t shock Tokyoites, however – the city has been named the world’s most expensive for all but six years since 1992.
The chart gauges the prices some of the main staples of living from clothing to groceries, pricing out everyday items such as a loaf of bread, bottle of wine and pack of cigarettes — items that can see great fluctuations year-to-year based on taxes, tariffs and production changes. The list is calculated in a similar manner to the basket of goods measured for the U.S.’s Consumer Price Index. In Tokyo, the most expensive — and most populous — metropolitan area in the world, the average cost of a loaf of 2-lb. loaf of bread is about $9.06 in U.S. dollars. An average bottle of table wine costs $15.95.
But that’s positively a bargain compared to two Australian cities, which have seen some of the biggest jumps in prices over the past year. Sydney and Melbourne fill the third and fourth slots, respectively. In Sydney, the same bottle of wine that is less than $16 in Tokyo costs more than $25. Partially powered by the country’s strong economic links to China’s burgeoning economy, the Australian dollar has surpassed parity with the U.S. dollar in recent years despite being valued around 80 cents traditionally in the past. Thus, living – or making a trip – Down Under is not as budget-friendly as it was 10 years ago.
The biggest surprise comes in with Caracas, Venezuela, which jumps up 25 slots from last year. The main culprit for a lighter wallet? Rising inflation and the unfortunate characteristic of having a fixed exchange rate to the U.S. dollar. A loaf of bread costs 20% more than it did a year ago, and a bottle of wine has jumped 13%. Fortunately one crucial component is still dirt-cheap in the South American country: fuel. The government of the oil-rich nation subsidizes the cost of gas, so much so that one liter (1/4 gallon) costs about two cents. Parisians must be crying — their fuel costs 100 times more per gallon.
The report also reveals another trend: Asian cities are overtaking Europe as one of the most expensive regions in the world to live. In conjunction with a strong economy and rising inflation, Asian cities top the list, with 11 out of the world’s top 20 most expensive locales.
Luckily, if you’re residing stateside, you can probably breathe a (little) sigh of relief: No American city makes it into the top 20, though Los Angeles and New York tie eventually each other at number 27. The chart also lists the least expensive places in the world: Karachi, Pakistan and Mumbai, India tie for the ranking.
The top 10 most expensive cities are:
10. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Caracas, Venezuela
8. Paris, France
7. Zurich, Switzerland
5. Melbourne, Australia
4. Oslo, Norway
3. Sydney, Australia
2. Osaka, Japan
1. Tokyo, Japan