Soaring prices of essential goods and real estate may have made life costlier for people but Indian cities are still among the cheapest places in terms of cost of living for expatriates, a latest survey says.
All the seven major cities in the country -- Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore -- have moved up by 1-3 ranks in a list of Asia's costliest cities for expats released on Tuesday by Hong Kong-based ECA International, a consultancy firm on international HR professionals.
However, all Indian cities are placed in the bottom half of the list of 41 Asian cities, topped by Seoul in South Korea.
Besides, the most expensive city in India - Mumbai - is ranked 24th in Asia and 192nd in the world.
Mumbai is followed by New Delhi at 25th position in Asia, Chennai (30), Hyderabad (32), Kolkata (35), Pune (36) and Bangalore (40). The world rankings of New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore are 194, 203, 206, 212, 214 and 224 respectively.
"Cost of living in Indian cities is relatively cheap than elsewhere in Asia and most of the MNCs are therefore not even giving cost of living allowances to their expatriate employees there," ECA International General Manager Lee Quane told PTI from Hong Kong.
However, these cities have become relatively expensive in the past few months, while moving up the ranks from the previous survey in September 2006.
Mumbai and Bangalore rose one position each; while New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune have moved up two ranks each. Chennai gained three positions from its 33rd rank in September last year.
Indian cities have moved up the rankings mainly because of two factors -- the increase in inflation rate and appreciation in the rupee, Quane said.
The strengthening rupee, which has risen nearly 14 per cent against the dollar in the past one year, hurts expats as they are paid in the US currency or other foreign currencies.
The inflation rate in Indian cities rose above the average for Asia with a faster increase than places like Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong, he added.
Besides, cost of goods and services is rising at a faster rate than developed Asia locations like Japan and Hong Kong.
The strengthening of Indian rupee against the dollar made the cost of living relatively expensive in Indian cities, which led to their rankings moving up, Quane said.
The cost of living ranking in Asia for 2007 was topped by Seoul followed by Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe in Japan at the second, third and fourth positions.
The worldwide list is topped by Angola's Lauancia, Hararae in Zimbabwe and Oslo in Norway.