Tokyo World's Cost Of Living King

Mount Fuji over Yokohama bay area, Tokyo, Japan
The surging euro currency sent European cities climbing in an annual cost-of-living survey released Monday, while Tokyo dethroned Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city.

U.S. cities saw their ranking fall in the survey of 144 urban areas around the world, thanks to a weakened dollar against European and Asian currencies.

Asian cities filled five of the top 10 places in the survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which ranks cost of living for foreign workers rather than local residents.

Tokyo, Moscow and the Japanese city of Osaka were judged the world's most expensive cities. Bogota, Colombia; Harare, Zimbabwe; and the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, were the cheapest.

New York was the only North American city in the top 10, in 10th place. The next most expensive U.S. cities were White Plains, New York, in 20th place, Los Angeles at 22 and Chicago at 25.

After Osaka, the top 10 is made up of Hong Kong, Beijing, Geneva, London, Seoul, Zurich and New York.

The European single currency's strong performance has made many European cities costlier. The euro has climbed by almost 40 percent against the U.S. dollar since February 2002.

Milan, Italy, shot from 63rd place in 2002 to 17 this year, while Dublin, Ireland, rose from 73 to 21 and the French capital, Paris, was up from 74 to 23.

"The strengthening of the euro has pushed prices up in EU cities, making them expensive for overseas visitors," said Mercer spokeswoman Yvonne Traber.

Britain is not a member of the euro, but high transport and housing costs help make London the most expensive city in the 15-member European Union.

No Canadian city made the top 100. Toronto was ranked 104th and Vancouver 110th.

Sydney, Australia, came in at 67, up 28 places from 2002, while Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand both climbed 25 places, to 117 and 115 respectively.

The survey compares the cost of some 200 items, including housing, food, transportation and entertainment. International corporations use the figures to adjust the pay that employees receive when they are sent overseas.

The survey found that the gap between expensive and inexpensive cities is shrinking. Tokyo was three-and-a-half times more expensive than last-placed Asuncion, slightly less than the gap between last year's top and bottom cities.