Mercer, a global leader in human resource consulting and related services (owned by Marsh & McLennan Companies, NYSE-MMC), completes an annual survey of the relative cost of living allowing companies with global operations to assure that expatriates working abroad are appropriately compensated in their housing and living costs. The survey results are also a great source of information in dealing with foreign customers relocating either temporarily or permanently to the U.S.
The annual survey compares the cost of more than 200 items including housing, food and drink, clothing, currency fluctuations and transportation among others, and covers 214 cities global. As shown in the table below, Japan (with three cities) and Switzerland (with two) accounted for one-half of the 2012 top-10 list.
New York City, the highest ranking in the United States, ranked 33rd most expensive in the study.