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WSJ: The Most Expensive Cities in the World to Live

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A stronger dollar has propelled New York and Los Angeles into an annual ranking of the world’s 10 most expensive cities.

Singapore took the top spot in the ranking from the Economist Intelligence Unit for the third straight year, followed by Zurich and Hong Kong.

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The survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, and volatile exchange rates have rippled through the survey.

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This means that even if the cost of living in, say, New York didn’t rise much for New Yorkers over the past 12 months, the survey will show that New York became more expensive because the dollar strengthened, raising prices of goods and services relative to other countries.

Indeed, New York climbed to No. 7 on the list from No. 22 just one year earlier. It had been far as down as No. 49 in 2011, and it peaked at No. 6 from 2000 through 2002. Compared with New York, 106 cities saw living costs decline last year, while 16 saw a rise in the relative cost of living.

Los Angeles was tied for No. 8 on the list. Other pricey American cities include Chicago(21), Minneapolis (24), Washington, D.C. (26), Houston (31) and San Francisco (34).

One important caveat: The index includes the cost of household goods, clothing, food and transportation, but it doesn’t include the cost of shelter. This is a huge household cost, of course, which may make the ranking less meaningful. In any event, this helps explain why some expensive U.S. cities, namely San Francisco, don’t rank higher in the index.

Of the 16 U.S. cities surveyed, Cleveland and Atlanta were the least expensive, with a cost of living that is 31% less than New York. On average, New York was about 20% more expensive than other U.S. cities.

While the stronger dollar meant that the relative cost of living rose for most American cities last year, all 28 cities surveyed in Western Europe saw cost of living declines compared with the U.S. In Russia, the collapse of the ruble caused the cost of living inMoscow and St. Petersburg to decline nearly 40%.

A summary of the full survey is available online.

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