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Seoul Rated World’s 2nd Priciest City

Posted June. 27, 2006 03:17,   


“Of course. It is much cheaper to have a correspondent in an American metropolitan city such as Chicago than have one in Seoul,” said a western news agency official, explaining the recent reluctance of foreign media to open offices in Korea.

The result of the survey also proved that. According to a survey announced by the international consulting firm Mercer Human Resource Consulting (MHRC) on June 26, Seoul ranked second out off 144 cities in the world in living costs that include the costs of about 200 items such as housing, transportation and food. Chicago, which the foreign media official took as an example, was ranked 38th on the list.

Moscow, ranked the fourth priciest city in the world last year, took the top spot by replacing last year’s first place Tokyo, while Seoul jumped from fifth to second place. This year Tokyo was ranked third.

Foreigners living in Korea also agree with the results of the survey.

New Zealander Benjamin Alexander, the vice president of Woori Group Financial Asset Management Corporation, came to Korea two weeks ago. Currently living in a hotel, his top priority is finding a place to live in. Although he has vast experience living abroad in cities such as Sydney, London and Tokyo, he was astounded by the high housing prices of Seoul.

He said, “London’s transportation costs are obviously more expensive, and Tokyo’s house prices are also extraordinary. However it does not seem easy to find the right house at the appropriate price in Seoul.”

Kim Hyun-ji who runs a center in Seoul aiding students planning to study in Japan, compared the lives in Seoul and Tokyo, “The living costs in Seoul have increased by three to four times during the past 10 years, but the living costs in Japan do not seem to have changed much during the same period.”

She added, “In Japan there are 100 yen shops and cheap restaurants where one can have a meal for less than 300 yen, so one can save living costs, but many Japanese students who come to study in Korea are overwhelmed by the high living costs.”

According to the MHRC survey, Tokyo was ranked third because of the weak yen. This year’s living cost ranks were affected by exchange rate fluctuations.

The reason why Moscow took first place, most of all, is the hike in real estate prices due to its recent real estate boom.

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com