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Dhaka one of the most expensive cities in the world

  • Published at 10:53 am June 16th, 2020
shapla chottor dhaka city
Overhead photo of the Shapla Square in Dhaka. Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The Bangladesh capital is the most expensive city to live in in South Asia, according to a renowned survey

Dhaka ranks 26th on the list of the most expensive cities for expatriates, out of 209 cities across five continents, according to the 2020 Cost of Living Survey, a widely recognized annual survey published by Mercer.

The city is also the most expensive city in the South Asian region, followed by Mumbai, India, which holds the 60th position on the list, and then New Delhi (101), Chennai (143), Colombo (177), Kolkata (185), Islamabad (200), Karachi and (205).

Among major cities from the entirety of Asia, Dhaka is the 13th most expensive, placed above notable cities such as Taipei (28), Bangkok (35), Riyadh (31), Abu Dhabi (39), Yangon (83), Jakarta (86), Kiev (106), Doha (109), Hanoi (116), Kuala Lumpur (144) and Istanbul (156).

Asian cities come off as costlier in the survey: six of the top 10 cities on the list are in Asia.

The 10 most expensive cities in the world are: Hong Kong, Ashgabat, Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore, New York City, Shanghai, Bern, Geneva, Beijing.

It is alarming that Dhaka, the capital of a developing country with modest annual income (or gross domestic product - GDP), has such a high cost of living even when compared to cities that are far more developed.

But if the cities above are not enough cause for concern, Dhaka ranks higher than some of the most developed cities in the world, including Chicago (30), Washington (32), Milan (47), Paris (50), Amsterdam (64), Rome (65), Sydney (66), Munich (72), Berlin (82), Madrid (87), Toronto (98), and many more.

To put Dhaka’s placing into perspective against some of those cities, let’s look at the GDPs of their respective countries: Bangladesh had a GDP of $274 billion in 2018, compared to $20.54 trillion of the US, $3.948 trillion of Germany, $2.778 trillion of France, $2.084 trillion of Italy, and $1.713 trillion of Canada.

However, the list also contains a few other cities in a similar predicament to that of Dhaka, including Ashgabat (2), Victoria (14), Ndjamena (15), Lagos (18), Kinshasha (24), Libreville (33), Abidjan (36), etc.

These cities, like Dhaka, would do well to reduce their living expenses, considering the fact that they belong to modest economies.

Mercer, a US-based human resources consulting firm, says the data from the survey can be used by governments and major companies to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad, amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The choice of cities surveyed is based on demand for data, Mercer adds.

The survey measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

These factors, used by the survey to calculate the rankings, makes it a good indicator of the general cost of living in a city.

The full list can be viewed here.

Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan, a leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people, with 25,000 employees based in 44 countries and with the annual revenue of $17 billion.

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