The human resource consulting firm Mercer released the results of its annual World Cost of Living Survey this week. Covering 143 cities across six continents, it measures the cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The comprehensive study ranks Moscow as the most expensive city. Compared to last year, Bratislava jumped from 48th to 31st. To find out more about the survey and how Prague faired, I spoke to Mercer's Jana Kurtinova:
"The figures are based on a survey, which was conducted in March 2007. The comparisons are then based on a similar survey conducted last year. The information is used by governments and major companies to protect the purchasing power of their employees when transferred abroad."
And how did Prague fair in the survey?
"This year, Prague is in 49th place and last year it was in 50th place. When we take the major elements or items then the rent of a luxury 2-bedroom unfurnished apartment for example costs 1,100 euros. It is usually in the centre of Prague and that is why the price is a little bit higher. As far as the bus ticket is concerned, it costs 60 cents. A music CD is quite expensive compared to other cities and countries and costs 21 euros. A cup of coffee - probably the most favourite in Prague - costs 2.80 euros."
Compared to other cities like London or Rome, for example, how much would the luxurious apartment that costs 1,100 euros here cost there?
"In London, it's nearly 3,000 euros and in Rome 1,500 euros. I think that Prague is still one of the least expensive cities in Europe. London ranked number two this year."
"Well, with the appreciation of the Czech crown and also the euro and the weakening of the US dollar, the exchange rate primarily caused the change in the ranking."
What about Bratislava? We're surprised that Prague is more expensive than many cities in the USA And then we're also surprised that Prague is cheaper than Bratislava, the capital of neighbouring Slovakia.
"The Slovak economy made substantial progress last year, which was also connected with the strengthening of their currency and the exchange rate. So, this is the main reason why Bratislava went up that much."