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Tokyo has overtaken the Angolan capital, Luanda, to become the world's most expensive city for expats to live according to the recently released Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.

The annual report focuses on prices collected from 214 major cities around the globe, looking at 200 commonly bought services and items including transport, food, clothing and entertainment, between March 2011 and March 2012. The cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expats - plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Japanese cities now occupy three of the top ten spots, with bills for expats based in the region being pushed up as the yen rises against the dollar. Hong Kong also ranked highly, at number eight on the list, while a number of other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have rapidly made their way up the list this year due to the thriving economy in this part of the world. For example, in Shanghai, China (now the 16th most expensive city) spending on accommodation has risen by an incredible 73% in the past year.

Australian cities have also leapt up rapidly in the rankings after a currency surge. From 2011 to 2012, Sydney climbed from 14th to 11th, Melbourne from 21st to 15th, Perth from 30th to 19th and Brisbane from 31st to 24th.

In the US, ranking 33rd (down from 32rd in 2011), New York City remains the most costly city, while Los Angeles (68th) and San Francisco (90th) are slowly catching up, having jumped a respective nine and 16 places since last year. Looking Northward, Toronto (61st) remains the highest ranking city in Canada, closely followed by Vancouver (63rd).

As for Europe, although the Swiss cities of Geneva and Zurich, and Moscow in Russia remain hugely expensive destinations for expats, all making the top ten, other cities like Paris, Rome and Amsterdam have all slid down the rankings as the weaker Euro due to the recession in most Eurozone countries reduced costs for overseas firms. London now ranks at 25th on the list, down from 18th in 2011.

Top ten most expensive cities for expats 2012:
1. Tokyo, Japan
2. Luanda, Angola
3. Osaka, Japan
4. Moscow, Russia
5. Geneva, Switzerland
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Singapore, Singapore
8. N’Djamena, Chad
9. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
10. Nagoya, Japan

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