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October 18, 2009

Traveling to Tokyo? It will cost you a pretty penny. The budget traveler may want to consider the least expensive cities first. Statistics come from the 2009 Mercer Cost of Living Survey released in July; it uses 200 items, including food and entertainment, to rank, by affordability, 143 cities with ex-pat populations. Currency value fluctuation reflects a one-day snapshot of each country's currency, using exchange rates relative to the U.S. dollar.

-- Jason La

Most expensive cities

*--* City Ranking in 2008 Currency fluctuation 1. Tokyo, the capital of 2 +12% Japan, more than 12 million residents 2. Osaka, Japan's 11 +12% second-largest city 3. Moscow, Russia's capital 1 -13% and an economic powerhouse 4. Geneva, in Switzerland, but 8 No change the global center for diplomacy 5. Hong Kong, a special 6 +1% administrative region of China 6. Zurich, Switzerland's 9 No change largest city and its financial center 7. Copenhagen, Denmark's 7 -5% capital and extremely bike-friendly 8. New York, the capital of 22 n/a culture and commerce 9. Beijing, once a budget 20 No change travel destination but not since the Olympics 10.Singapore, developed from a 13 -2% fishing village into a world player *--*

Least expensive cities

*--* 143. Johannesburg, South Africa, 2010 World Cup soccer 140 -4% venue 142. Monterrey, a mixture of modern and historic Mexico 131 -28% 141. Asuncion, Paraguay, founded in 1537 143 -23% 140. Karachi, center of Pakistan's banking, industry and 141 -7% trade 139. Wellington, the center of New Zealand's film industry 93 -6% 138. Auckland, on New Zealand's North Island, has over 30% 78 -6% of the population 137. Mexico City, the capital and home to 9 million 108 -28% 136. Quito, Ecuador, founded on the ruins of an Incan city 142 n/a* 135. Chennai, once known as Madras, fifth-largest city in 117 -12% India 134. Tunis, Tunisia, where the old town is a UNESCO site 133 -9% *--*

*Ecuador's currency is the U.S. dollar.

Source: Mercer's 2009 Cost of Living Survey

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