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.
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.
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