How far do you need to go to stretch your dollar? According to a 2010 cost-of-living survey for expatriates by Mercer Consulting, a human resource firm, Karachi, Pakistan, is the cheapest place to enjoy a high-end lifestyle, followed by Managua, Nicaragua, and Islamabad, Pakistan. Of course, life is not all rosy in Karachi, a rapidly developing city on the Indian Ocean where political and ethnic tensions raise safety concerns and poverty remains a problem. But for those with dollars in their pockets, high-end living comes at a lower cost than in most international cities: $353 covers one month’s rent for a two-bedroom flat in a gated community, and a three-course dinner in an upscale restaurant costs about $43 per person. Of course, Karachis live on far less (Pakistan’s Federal Bureau of Statistics pegs the country’s per capita income at roughly $1,100). Mercer, which is based in New York, ranked 214 cities based on the cost of a basket of more than 200 products, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. It focused mainly on internationally recognized brands—for instance, Coca-Cola beverages or Whirlpool appliances. Nearly all the cheapest cities are in developing countries, but wedged on the list between Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, and Macedonia’s Skopje is Winston-Salem, the 17th cheapest place in Mercer’s ranking, making the U.S. the only G-8 nation in the top 20. The North Carolina city is the headquarters for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Krispy Kreme, and the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. According to Mercer, the weakening of the U.S. dollar and the decrease in rent levels pulled American cities down in the rankings. Nathalie Constantin-Metral, a senior researcher at Mercer, adds that internationally recognized brands and high-standard accommodations in U.S. cities are often in greater supply and therefore less costly than in developing countries.
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Source: Mercer www.mercer.com