Prices of everyday goods and staples have rocketed 50-90 per cent here in five years

Auckland is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in but NZ's biggest city is being outstripped by its Australian cousins, a study has found.

The City of Sails ranked as the 19th most expensive city to live in the annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey released this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The position was lower than 15th in the last study - but as it is a comparison study, Auckland's cost of living may have accelerated, just not as fast as in other cities.

Economist Intelligence Unit spokeswoman Trisha Suresh said there had been a gradual increase in day-to-day expenses for Aucklanders in recent years.


"Basic everyday goods and staples such as butter and bread, meat and basic household supplies such as laundry detergent and soap have seen a 50-90 per cent increase in prices when compared to five years ago."

The biannual survey looks at prices of various products - including food and drink, clothing, household supplies, home rent, transport and utility bills - from scores of cities around the world.

The two most expensive places to live are Tokyo and Osaka in Japan.

Sydney is third most expensive and Melbourne is just as expensive as Oslo, in Norway, which ranked fourth equal.

The inclusion of the two Australian cities is attributed to the strong economic growth happening in the country which has supported inflation and currency swings, making it more expensive.

Ms Suresh said that despite the cost, Aucklanders enjoyed a high standard of living - coming in at 10th place out of 140 cities surveyed recently.

"A more 'liveable' city attracts visitors, businesses and tourists, adding to the vibrancy and growth. It is no surprise that the bottom few cities - ie, the cheapest to live in - are for many reasons cities expats prefer not to live in," she said.

"When more people and businesses want to come, prices are inadvertently pushed up.

"But it also means cities are becoming more international and important on the global stage. We see this happening in many cities in Asia-Pacific, underlining a shift in influence and importance from West to East."

Darryl Evans, chief executive of the Mangere Budgeting Service, said the biggest issue for his clients was increasing rental prices.

"We are seeing a lot of tenancies end due to rental arrears. And we are seeing a lot of families overcrowding the houses by bringing in extended family or friends. We are seeing up to three families living in one dwelling."

Families in Mangere were relocating further afield, such as Pokeno. But associated costs such as higher petrol consumption meant that often groceries were cut back on.

"It's the food bill that you can slash depending on what you've got left over, if you've got anything left over."

While many families would like to move outside Greater Auckland, they had to stay where the jobs were.

Most expensive cities to live in

1. Tokyo

2. Osaka

3. Sydney

4 = Oslo

4 = Melbourne

6. Singapore

7. Zurich

8. Paris

9. Caracas

10. Geneva

19. Auckland

additional reporting: Nicholas Jones.