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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

London felt expensive, but is it really?

I just got back from a trip to London and everything there, from the food to the shopping, seemed pretty pricey. For the first time, I actually felt that living in Manhattan was cheap.

According to Mercer's 2005 worldwide cost of living survey, London scores a 120.3 compared to New York's 100. This means that the cost of living in London is 20.3% more expensive than living in New York. Since we don't know what they are actually comparing, the number 20.3% means absolutely nothing. However, this is what they had to say:
Mercer'’s survey covers 144 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Two hundred items is a lot, but what exactly are they? The webpage doesn't say, so I have no clue.

So instead, I will list some prices in London and compare them with New York prices. This is from personal observation and is completely unscientific. The exchange rate during my stay was approximately 1.75 (factoring in transaction costs). Hopefully someone will find this interesting.

London prices are bolded.

Transportation
Single tube fare from Heathrow into the city: £4 ($7)
JFK to midtown : $7
Single bus ride : £1.50 ($2.63)
Single bus ride : $2

Single tube fare (1-2 zones) : £3 ($5)

Single subway fare : $2
One Day bus pass : £3.50 ($6.13)
One Day tube pass : £4.90 ($8.76)

One Day bus + subway pass : $7

Food
500ml bottle of Evian : 75p ($1.31)
Haribo 225g candy : £1.89 ($3.31)
Random sandwich at Pret a Manger : £2.50 ($4.38)

Same sandwich at Pret here in NYC : $5.50 (approx.)
Random lunch specials at a restaurant : £5-7 ($8.75-12.25)
Random lunch specials at a restaurant here in NYC : $6-10
Mcdonalds value meal : approx. £3.50 ($6.13)

I'll add some more later as I have time. One major point is that in London, the tax of 17.5% is INCLUDED in the price of goods and food, whereas here in New York, we would still have to add 8.xx%. Service charge of 10% seems to be customary in London also, instead of the 15% here. That would narrow the price gap between many items.

If you would like to add to the list, feel free to email me or leave a comment. It would be interesting to hear from some other cities in the world also.

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