Norway has two of the world’s ‘most expensive’ cities

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Oslo has been among the world’s most expensive cities for many years, but now another Norwegian city has joined the dubious rankings. The low level of the US dollar helped propel both cities into the top five, while New York isn’t even in the top 15.

Stavanger has now joined Oslo in the dubious honor of being among the world's most expensive cities. PHOTO: Views and News

The rankings were conducted by the international human resources organization ECA (Employment Conditions Abroad) for Bloomberg Business Week (external link), basing much of the results on the local cost of various goods and services. Residential costs and prices for electricity and water weren’t included.

The cost of a “light lunch,” for example, helped send Oslo into the number-two spot, because it amounted to the equivalent of USD 45. That was right behind Tokyo in Japan, which also has three other cities in the Top 10: Nagoya (#3), Yokohama (#5) and Kobe (#9).

In fourth place was Norway’s oil capital of Stavanger, which has risen in the past few decades from being a relatively poor fishing town with lots of canneries. Now it’s the base for a large number of oil and offshore firms, not least state-controlled Statoil. A “light lunch” in Stavanger, according to the ECA study, cost NOK 177 (USD 32.30).

Four of the other “most expensive cities in the world” are in Switzerland, which, like Norway, has refused to join the European Union. Zurich ranked 6th, Geneva 8th, Bern 10th and Basel 11th. Norway, Switzerland and Japan are known for having fairly protectionist policies to keep out lower-priced imports, especially within the food business, so it’s likely that played a role in the three countries dominating the list of the world’s most expensive cities.

One other Scandinavian city made it onto the list, Copenhagen, in the 12th spot.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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  • Erny72

    Tell me something I didn’t know.

  • What utterly nonsense of a statistics! We don’t the tradition for eating out for lunch here in Norway as in many other nations. Still, it is fully possble to buy a ‘light lunch’ in both Oslo and Stavanger for far less than 177,00 NOK. I would say half of that, depending on how a ‘light lunch’ is defined.

    Note that two (three!) of the countries high on the list have VAT (sales tax) of more than 20% off the sales price. In Norway the hamburger comes with ‘free’ health care, free education for your children beond Collage, a lavish pension included. -Is that included in New York…?

    To what I can see after having travelled around in countries comparable to Norway is that Helsinki is slightly more expensive (due to higher VAT) while Stockholm and Copenhagen do have cheaper ‘light lunches’, otherwise the same prices as us, with slight variations depending on currency changes. Some of the hot lunches in Stockholm are so cheap that they are hardly eatable. A collegue of mine landed himself in hospital after having eaten an unbelievable cheap lunch in Stockholm (pytt i panne), in a country proud of their ‘cheap & light (and hot) lunches. We do not eat hot food for lunch. We have a sandwich & cup of coffee for lunch, standing, in Norway.

    Why New York and Tokio is so expensive is unexplainable since they have no sales tax to talk of. It must be grotesquely high real estate prices. I am just speculating.

    • Nemmind

      Glad you enjoy it. We were fooled into the believing the rose tinted propaganda that is spouted here but can’t wait to get away from the high prices and awful quality paired with no choice and inflexible ways. It is expensive to eat or enjoy anything here. Most people will tell you that there are wonderful views and countryside but once you’ve got over that, there is very little left that this country offers and it is nothing you can’t get in other places.

    • You don’t have the tradition for eating out for lunch because most people can’t afford it. Even something as basic as a meal at burger king or mcdonalds is significantly more than what you pay in Sweden or Denmark. But it’s nice to see you justifying the high prices by adding in free education (not true), free healthcare (but very long waiting lists) and a lavish pension (only if you’re a state employee, the rest get bugger all). Having a couple of % points higher vat makes little or not difference to the cost of the meal.

      IMO the only time a Norwegian benefits from their high standard of living is when they take there NOK’s and go on their annual package holiday to Turkey or Southern Europe.

      • Robert Neve

        Don’t forget the fees for doctors. Amazing how most of Europe manages to offer the same (or more in the UK’s case) and yet they don’t have to pay 200kr for lunch. But then they don’t try to maintain a 19th century farming model. And don’t even mention disbanding militant unions to a Norwegian. Welcome to 1970s Britain except all the country votes Labour

  • Thakkar

    Where does Tromsø stand?

  • Interrogative

    If only the quality of product and service could match the prices….
    Wishful thinking on my part.