Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Still the Best Revenge

[posted by Callimachus]

Yeah, I saw those "most expensive cities in the world" stories, but as a long-time citydweller I also recognize the truth in this short analysis of comparative prices in some of the places in question.

The comparative figures only are meaningful if you live the same lifestyle in each place. And as anyone who has moved from city to city can tell you, you don't.

Clothing everywhere in Western Europe is consistently expensive, though this may reflect the particularly low cost of dressing up in New York. In Paris, where the cost of living is 30% higher, utility bills are relatively low, and alcoholic drinks are only three-quarters of the cost of those in the Big Apple. Expatriates posted to London (25% pricier than New York) can save money by giving up smoking—85% more expensive. This anti-social habit is even more prohibitive in the world's priciest city, Oslo. New arrivals there would also do well not to buy a car or hop into too many taxis. Frankfurt is the most expensive place to buy clothes, but residents won't be penalised heavily if they keep warm instead by leaving the heating on, which is half the New York cost. And in Copenhagen, a night of boozing and smoking won't burn a hole in your moderately priced trouser pocket, but it may be financially prudent to walk off the excess, rather than pay double the New York rate for a taxi home.

Advice to Youth: As you plainly can see, it helps to cultivate a menu of vices as you travel through life. In your rootless cosmopolite phase, you can shift them in and out of rotation as a form of fiscal responsibility. The "Economist" omits dope prices from its analysis, probably because it wasn't factored into the original study. This site may help fill that gap.