Cream and sugar with your $5 coffee?

Here's a little (unsubstantiated, anecdotal, third party) story for you: A few years ago, a Canadian law firm with offices in Toronto and Calgary among other cities levelized their pay scale for articling students. They did this for internal political reasons, I'm sure, but what it meant was that students could no longer be swayed to move to Hogtown by high salaries, instead vying for positions in the Calgary office, where the lifestyle was considerably more relaxed. For some people, this surely meant nothing to them. Toronto was the place to be, and their salaries weren't affected in the least. For people who love the west, this was big news. I don't know how it actually turned out, sadly, but I assume there were more than a few people who had already agreed to go to Toronto and then couldn't change their minds to get to the Calgary office instead.

I caught a television news article this morning about how Moscow is now the most expensive city to live in. This seemed like a timely thing to discuss here, but when preliminary research unearthed that Moscow had been named the most expensive city in June, I wondered just how thick is the backlog of news stories over at CTV?

Regardless, I still think it's worth talking about, because cost of living is one of those things that influences where we live. Do you get paid enough to survive? Is the rate of pay enough to justify the living conditions or lifestyle? Would you feel as though you're being compensated for living somewhere you wouldn't make your first choice?

Mercer Human Resource Consulting concluded* the following for 2006, based on their survey of "200 typical goods" plus rent, transportation and entertainment:

1. Moscow (#4 in 2005)
2. Seoul
3. Tokyo (#1 in 2005)
4. Hong Kong
5. London (#3 in 2005)
6. Osaka (#2 in 2005)
7. Geneva
8. Copenhagen
9. Zurich
10. Oslo
10. New York

14. Beijing
15. Paris
24. Tel Aviv
34. San Francisco
47. Toronto

"In the United States, the most expensive cities are New York, Los Angeles (No.29
worldwide), San Francisco (No. 34) and Chicago (No. 38) .


"To give a sense of just what life costs in various cities, Mercer priced out the cost of a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment, a cup of coffee served, a fast food meal and an international paper.
In Moscow, the apartment will run you $3,000, the coffee $5.27, the paper $3.40, and the burger with fries $3.87.
By contrast, Buenos Aires provides a better deal price-wise, to say nothing of warmer temperatures. You can nab the apartment for $999, the coffee for $1.47, the paper for $4.55 and the happy meal for $2.77."

(Source: CNN Money)

More on Moscow:

Overall, foreign exchange rate fluctuations were behind the majority of the
changes in ranking, but in Moscow’s case, costs were buoyed by the surging price
for large living accommodations. Prices for big houses rose some 50 percent over
the past year, driven in large part by soaring demand from expats...

(Source: Taipei Times)

City Mayors** begs to differ. Their survey of rent, 95 goods (prices based on a shopping basket similar to what western families would buy) and 27 services has the following ranks for 2006:

1. London (105.5)
2. New York (100.0)
3. Oslo (94.6)
4. Tokyo (93.4)
5. Zurich (87.3)
10. Los Angeles (80.6)
19. Toronto (71.4)
21. Montreal (71.2)
41. Moscow (56.8)
42. Tel Aviv (55.2)

And for the Americans out there, here's a little time-waster for you: Find out how far your current salary will go in another city.

Here's one Canadians can enjoy, too. But you may have to help the calculator out with some rental cost info. (If I was a really good blogger, I'd present a range of costs of living. Har.)

Do you know how expensive your city is to live in, compared to others? Or do you just complain that everything's too expensive? If the latter, you may be suffering not from a salary too low, but the all too common Curmudgeon Syndrome, identifyable when a person begins to talk about what could once be purchased for a nickel.

Hey, at least my coffee's only $1.85 ($1.55 if I bring my own mug). And the cream & sugar are free.

Day 27

Posted bythemikestand at 7:26 AM  

3 stepped up to the mike:

SRH said... 5:15 PM, November 27, 2006  

So, are you going to take a long break when NaBloWriMo is over?

Anonymous said... 8:19 PM, November 27, 2006  

i get paid like crap in a very expensive area, and do not get any benefits or perks. if i was a man supporting my family, or if i was single and not sleeping with/married to someone making serious coin, i'd be screwed.

Anonymous said... 11:14 PM, November 27, 2006  

I can get a coffee for under a $1 (as long as I don't go to Starbucks - thankfully the local coffee is better).

Newspapers are still under a $1.

Transit is really cheap.

Food is generally very cheap.

Housing prices depend on what you are after. For the most part you are going to pay about S$1000 to S$1,500 for a half decent two-bedroom apartment (though cheaper ones can be had).

Did I mention that the taxes are pretty low too?

Singapore is a good place to live.

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