Amsterdam moves up to 23rd most expensive city in the world

Amsterdam has risen from the 29th most expensive city in the world to the 23rd, according to "Prices and Earnings," a study from financial services firm UBS which compares purchasing power in 72 major cities around the world.

The study was conducted during April and May of this year. It compares price levels, wage levels, domestic purchasing power, and working time required to buy between different cities. Prices were taken from a standardised basket of 122 goods and services, and wages were taken from 15 professions. Values are reported relative to those in New York City.

According to the study, Oslo, Tokyo and Zurich are the most expensive cities in the world, while New York City is the world's 6th most expensive city. When rent is included with expenses, only New York and Hong Kong rise in the rankings. Meanwhile, price levels are lowest in the Indian cities of Delhi and Mumbai.

Wage levels before taxes are highest in Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Oslo, though Copenhagen and Oslo both drop a few ranks once taxes are taken into account. In Amsterdam wages are 20th highest in the world before taxes and 21st after taxes.

Based on net annual income, Zurich has the highest purchasing power, followed by Sydney. Amsterdam ranks 15th based on net hourly wages, but drops to 19th when ranked in terms of net annual income.

To consider purchasing power from another angle, the survey also looked at how long one would have to work to purchase items that are the same everywhere. Workers in Tokyo can earn enough to buy a Big Mac the fastest (9 minutes), while those in Amsterdam need 16 minutes.

Workers in Zurich can earn enough to buy an iPhone the fastest (22 hours), while those in Amsterdam need 44,5 hours.

The top 10 most expensive cities in the world 2012 (New York = 100)
 Oslo 116
 Zurich 110,1
 Tokyo 108,9
 Geneva 106,5
 Copenhagen 100,9
 New York 100
 Luxembourg 94,4
 Stockholm 91,9
 Caracas 91
 London 87,3

"Prices and Earnings" is published by UBS CIO Wealth Management Research every three years. The latest edition of covers 72 cities in 58 countries.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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