Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Belfast's the cheapest UK city for living and working in

Belfast is the 165th most expensive city in the world

Belfast is the least expensive city to live and work in the UK, a new international study has found.

According to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey — which is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expatriate employees — Belfast (165) is among the best value cities, up 13 places on the rankings last year.

It is cheaper than other UK cities such as Aberdeen (144), Glasgow (161) and Birmingham (133).

Milan Taylor, head of Mercer's data and product services in the UK and Ireland said: “Despite price increases on goods and services most UK cities moved down in the ranking this year, following the loss in value of the British pound against the US dollar.

“However, Birmingham and Belfast bucked the trend, moving up in the ranking mainly because rental costs for expatriates increased a fair bit and price increases in these cities were higher than in say London and Glasgow.”

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

The cost of housing is also included and it plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Currency movements were measured against the US dollar.

Unsurprisingly London has been ranked the most expensive city in the UK for expat workers and was the 25th priciest place to live in the world.

“Deploying expatriate employees is becoming an increasingly important aspect of multinational companies’ business strategy, including expansion,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Principal at Mercer who is responsible for compiling the list.

“But with volatile markets and stunted economic growth, a keen eye on cost efficiency is essential, including on expatriate remuneration packages.

“Making sure salaries adequately reflect the difference in cost of living to the employee’s home country is important in order to attract and retain the right talent where companies need them.”

Tokyo topped the global poll as the most expensive place to live.

Luanda, Angola came in second position with Osaka, Japan ranked third.

The Russian capital, Moscow remains the fourth most expensive city in the world with Geneva, Switzerland in fifth position.

Australian cities continue to rank high in the Asia Pacific region and, following the strengthening of the Australian dollar has three surveyed cities in the top 20.

Sydney (11) and Melbourne (15) experienced moderate rises whereas Perth (19) and Canberra (23) both jumped 11 places. Brisbane (24) rose by seven places, and Adelaide (27) shot up 19 places. In New Zealand, both Auckland (56) and Wellington (74) both jumped 62 places.

Ms Constantin-Métral added: “When compared to New York, our benchmark city, most European cities have witnessed a decline in cost of living.

“Some exceptions exist where accommodation prices have increased or additional VAT taxes have pushed the cost of living up. In north America, most cities have gone up in the ranking, as the US dollar has strengthened against a large proportion of the world’s other currencies.

“In Asia, more than six-in-10 cities moved up, including all surveyed cities in Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand.”

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