Friday, January 16, 2009

Cheap Or...

...Not Cheap

Most of the time we are enjoying our time in China even though sometime the cultural differences are overwhelming, for the most part life in Beijing is pleasant mostly due to the cheap cost of daily life (apart from the western type grocery shopping – the kids have got to have their Nutella!!). I’ve already talked several times about our lunches in nice western restaurants (and I’m not even talking about nice but cheap Chinese restaurants) for a fraction of the price that we would pay back in Europe or even the endless possibility of having handmade outfits (and I’m not going to even mention the endless copycat at the local markets!). So it was with a surprise that I read a couple of days ago “Beijing more expensive than Hong Kong for Expat?”

Beijing has for the first time become more expensive than Hong Kong for foreigners as a result of surging inflation on the mainland and appreciation of the yuan.
Rising costs pushed Beijing up to 31st place from 101st a year ago and Shanghai to 35th place from 106th, according to the survey by London-based ECA International, which advises companies globally on international assignments. […]
Hong Kong fell in the rankings to 97th spot in the latest survey, which compares a basket of 125 consumer goods and services commonly purchased by expatriates in more than 370 locations worldwide.
Volatile exchange rates stemming from the global financial crisis also mean London and Seoul are no longer among the top 10 most expensive locations for expatriates.
Meanwhile, Japanese cities have returned to upper end of the league table.[…]
Angola's capital Luanda remains the costliest place for foreigners. That is mainly because certain items and brands typically required by expatriates are not readily available and therefore very expensive.
Moscow has replaced Oslo as Europe's most costly location while a strong yen has made Tokyo the second-most expensive city in the world, up from 13th position a year ago.[…]
Such sharp currency swings create a challenge for companies remunerating expat packages, most of which are based on an expat's home currency, says ECA. […]
The survey does not cover the cost of accommodation, school fees or car purchases, which ECA says are usually compensated for separately in expatriate packages. […]
While a handful of African cities featured in the top 20, Africa is also home to the cheapest location for foreigners, Maseru in Lesotho.

(Great) Deal or No Deal?

Need to choose carefully for our next assignment. Don’t want to end up in Luanda, Angola (most expensive place to live) instead of Maseru, Lesotho (Cheapest location)… On a second thought, don’t think I want to go to either of those locations!