The 10 most expensive cities--excluding rent--are: Oslo, Zurich, Geneva, Tokyo, Copenhagen, New York, Stockholm, Toronto, Montreal and London. But when you include rent, Dubai and Singapore jump into the top 10, replacing Stockholm and Montreal.
Who Gets Paid the Most?
Switzerland pays workers the most, the updated study says, and "payroll deductions are relatively low." Zurich, Copenhagen, Geneva, Oslo, New York and Sydney pay the highest gross wages, but, as they used to say in the ads for municipal bonds, "It's not what you earn, it's what you keep!" Zurich and Geneva pay workers the most wages with the fewest deductions--so workers earn the highest net wages there, followed by New York, Sydney, Los Angeles and Oslo.
The September 2010 update focused on the "key indices (prices, wages and purchasing power)" but did not run the entire survey again--that's scheduled for spring 2012. See the 2010 update and the 2009 survey findings here.
The 2009 survey contains some amusing statistics that are expected to be updated in the full, 2012 version of the survey.
How Much is that iPod in the Window?
The 2009 survey used goods readily available around the world to gauge the affordability of a basket of items in the different cities. The survey has gathered global data on the cost of a Big Mac, for instance, since 1970.
The 2009 report noted, "employees have to work a global average of 37 minutes to earn enough to pay for a Big Mac." However, in Tokyo or Chicago, workers only had to toil 12 minutes to afford a Big Mac, while in Mumbai it took 61 minutes and in Nairobi, 158 minutes.
Looking for an iPod Nano? The 2009 survey reported that workers in Zurich and New York spent an average 9 hours working to earn enough buy the Nano; in Luxembourg, 10 hours; in Oslo 10.5 hours and in London 11 hours. In many other places, though, it took much longer--in Beijing, it took workers an average of 73 hours; in Nairobi, it took an average 160 hours--or four weeks of work--to buy the Nano; and in Mumbai it took 177 hours to afford this luxury.