NZ zooms up world cost-of-living scale

By Brooke Donovan

Rising costs of housing, rent and food have catapulted New Zealand's biggest cities up a global cost of living ranking.

Mercer's 2008 Cost of Living Survey has Auckland in 78th place and Wellington 93rd, up 21 and 18 places respectively.

But Kiwis struggling with the credit crunch can still count themselves lucky - at least they don't live in Moscow, Tokyo or London.

Auckland ranked the same as San Francisco and just above Beirut in Lebanon, and Casablanca in Morocco.

Wellington came in fractionally more expensive than Kuwait City and Leipzig in Germany, and a touch less than Santiago in Chile.

And the commonly held belief that Australia is cheaper was blown out of the water, with Sydney in 15th place, Melbourne 36th, Perth 53rd and Brisbane 57th.

Targeted at multinational companies that send employees around the world to work, the survey used New York as its base city for the purposes of comparison.

The most expensive place to live was Moscow, followed by Tokyo and London. Asian and European cities rounded out the top 10.

At the other end of the scale, Asuncion in Paraguay was the cheapest city to live in, beating out Quito in Ecuador and Karachi, Pakistan.

Rob Knox, head of Mercer's information product solutions business, said currency fluctuations and rising housing rental costs around the world had significantly affected this year's results.

"The New Zealand dollar has strengthened by 13.5 per cent against the US dollar over the past 12 months, but relative to other global destinations New Zealand fares quite well," he said.

However, Mr Knox said, the cost of living was not the only consideration, and when considering the total "value of living", New Zealand was "an attractive proposition for the global workforce".

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said an attractive cost of living added to the potential for Auckland to become an international business destination.

"With any of these surveys you have to couple it with the things that people associate with the brand," Mr Barnett said.

"People see us as being reasonably sophisticated, they associate us with security and with being multicultural - so it all adds up and improves the possibilities for Auckland."

- NZ Herald

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