Oslo still expensive in world rankings

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The latest survey of the world’s most expensive cities for companies sending employees abroad places Oslo in ninth place, and Stavanger in 12th. Copenhagen was the only other Scandinavian city to hit the list of the 20 most expensive cities in which to live.

High real estate and construction costs can pose a barrier for some companies needing to relocate employees to Oslo and Stavanger, which still rank among the most expensive cities in the world. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The survey, compiled by consulting and advisory firm ECA International, calculates the cost of living for expatriates in 475 cities around the world. The survey takes into account not only the costs of buying or renting a home but also the price of food, household items, and specific items like what it costs to buy a beer in a bar, a liter of gasoline, a cinema ticket or a cup of coffee.

Oslo is now more expensive than Hong Kong (in 11th place) and New York and London, which didn’t make ECA’s Top 20 this year. The price of a half-liter of beer, for example, is as much as (or even more than) NOK 100 in Oslo and Stavanger. That amounts to USD 12.50 at current exchange rates, higher than the equivalent of USD 12.26 in Hong Kong, USD 10.65 in New York and USD 9.69 in London.

A standard cinema ticket in Oslo, meanwhile, is now around NOK 120 (USD 15), compared to USD 14.37 in Hong Kong. ECA calculates that it costs much more to go to the movies in London, however, (the equivalent of USD 19.18) and in New York (USD 16.77).

While a liter of gasoline (petrol) costs just 95 cents in New York and the equivalent of USD 1.83 in London, it costs anywhere from NOK 14.75-17 in oil-producing but high-tax Norway, depending on the petrol station’s location and even the day of the week (often cheapest on Sundays). That converts to USD 1.84-2 (nearly USD 8 a gallon), but that’s actually a bit less than in Hong Kong, where ECA calculated the average price of a liter of petrol at USD 2.19.

The high and seemingly ever-rising cost of housing in Oslo and Stavanger clearly contributed to their spots on the list of the 20 most expensive cities in the world. The decline in the value of Norway’s krone, since oil prices collapsed in 2014, has lowered Norway’s earlier rankings, though, not only in the ECA International survey but also in several others. That dynamic has also propelled Caracas, Venezuela to jump to the top spot on ECA’s list, because of the county’s hyper-inflation in recent years.

Swiss cities dominated the list, with Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern claiming the 2nd to 5th spots, followed by Luanda in Angola, Tokyo and Seoul. Copenhagen ranked 15th-most expensive, behind Stavanger, Beijing and Tel Aviv.

“Norway is still an expensive country for expats, no doubt about that,” Gaute Sømme of a Stavanger relocation firm told newspaper Rogalands Avis. ECA’s surveys are aimed at the managers of companies handling compensation and benefits for international workers moving around the world on a short-, long-term or permanent basis.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund