For anyone turned on by lists, then have we got a list for you! The Economist's Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has published the EIU Worldwide Cost of Living for 2007. What's the WCOL, you say?
The Worldwide Cost of Living survey enables human resources line managers and expatriate executives to compare the cost of living in over 130 cities in nearly 90 countries and calculate fair compensation policies for relocating employees.
The survey gathers detailed information on the cost of more than 160 items--from food, toiletries and clothing to domestic help, transport and utility bills--in every city. More than 50,000 individual prices are collected in each survey round and surveys are updated each June and December. A cost-of-living index is calculated from the price data to express the difference in the cost of living between any two cities.
And for some reason, everything is indexed against NYC! But we don't even crack the top ten.
One reason why NYC - and other North American cities - are relatively cheaper, especially compared to Europe is the weak dollar. Since the WCOL site is for subscribers only, a generous commenter at Shanghaiist (which also has some good China-specific analysis) offered up the whole list, which shows funny things, like an ex-pat living in Detroit would be spending more than one living in Boston.
And Shanghaiist also showed how cities where an -ist or -est sites exist stack up against each other.