Auckland and Wellington are among the world's top 20 most expensive cities to live, says an international index.

The Economist intelligence unit has released its worldwide cost of living survey for 2011, to show both Auckland and Wellington moving up the ranks to become more expensive.

The survey compares the prices of 160 products and services such as food, drink, clothing, rent, transport and utility bills.

Auckland is the most expensive New Zealand city to live in, and has a 15th global ranking after climbing from 24th in 2010.


Our nation's capital is now placed on par with London. Wellington moved up 16 notches to settle in as the 17th most expensive place to live.

Unit editor Jon Copestake told Radio New Zealand today the cost of living in both New Zealand cities had doubled in the past decade.

"It's a strange situation I think. New Zealanders won't have noticed the cost of living bubbling over 10 years, although they might have seen it creeping up.

He said the increase had been driven by the high exchange rate and rising inflation.

"We've had inflation which has pushed up the cost of living over the last couple of years ... and New Zealand would be no exception.

"But the main issue here is currency movement. The New Zealand dollar and the Australian dollar have become favoured currency, they've had a lot of investment in them over the last couple of years."

He said although people coming into New Zealand might notice the high cost of living rate, Auckland and Wellington had high rates of liveability.

"It's not bad or good press, it's just how it is."


Zurich in Switzerland now tops the list as the most expensive city in the world, after taking the spot from Tokyo.

Karachi in Pakistan is the cheapest.

Over the ditch, Australia has a cluster of five cities in the top 20. Sydney ranked number seven, Melbourne eight, Perth 13th, Brisbane 14th and Adelaide 18th.

Many American cities had dropped, such as Cleveland and Detroit, while nine cities in China had continued to climb.

"All of the Chinese cities we surveyed are now more expensive than these cheapest American cities."