Cost of Living Index: Bad News for US Travelers as Foreign Cities Get Costly

A new global cost of living index released by The Economist's Intelligence Unit is showing how inflation in Europe and the rise of the Australian dollar are raising the cost of international travel. Not surprisingly, Tokyo retained its title as world's most expensive city even as Sydney and London moved up the list.

The most drastic change has been the rise of costs down under. Sydney and Melbourne were ranked the world's sixth and seventh most expensive cities, moving up the list along with Pert and Brisbane, all of which are now more expensive than London, which climbed five spots to become the world's fifteenth most expensive city.

The report found that the price of a loaf of bread has increased three-fold in that last five years in London and that a beer costs almost 80 cents more. England may have hit an economic rough patch, but the discounts that normally result from decreasing demand have been offset by inflation and an increased VAT.

Traditionally expensive European cities like Oslo, Paris, Zurich and Frankfurt remained in the top ten, reshuffled only slightly from their positions last year.

By way of comparison, New York was ranked 49th and Atlanta, the cheapest major city in the U.S., was on par with the Ukrainian capital Kiev. U.S. cities trended down in the rankings.

This is almost uniformly bad news for U.S. travelers. The greenback's retreat means that vacations will become more expensive relative to the rest of travelers' spending. The only comforting caveat is that the survey factors in compensation, meaning that many products are cheaper in Shanghai than in New York, where workers make four of five times more on average.

On the plus side, as U.S. cities get cheaper they will most likely see an influx of foreign tourists, which means better international food. U.S. citizens can take pride in knowing they earned a better quality spare rib.

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