Oslo is in 4th place behind Moscow, Tokyo and London. New York is 22nd. Oslo keeps very interesting company for such a dull and uninteresting place.
The first Canadian city in the survey is Vancouver at 65th. This is of no surprise to me. Canadians are very cost conscious. It is the influence of our Presbyterian roots. What did the Scottish ever do for us eh? Well, in addition to golf, whisky and deep fried Mars bars, they instilled a sense of McScroogeness.
I never really paid attention to prices until I moved to Norway. I do now. Unfortunately in many situations one is offered little choice bar abstinence. This is a result of inefficient supply chains, subsidies and protection, lack of competition, and or tax. For example:
- My litre of milk at the shop - $3 – Subsidies and protection
- My bottle of beer at the pub - $8 - Tax
- My takeaway pizza - $30 - Inefficient supply chain
- My monthly cable sports subscription - $70 - No competition
- My Volkswagen Passat - $80,000 - Total fucking economic incompetence.
A look at the average annual gross income offers a few insights:
- 1st - Moscow - $12,000
- 2nd - Tokyo - $45,000
- 3rd - London - $60,000
- 4th - Oslo - $75,000
- 22nd - New York - $45,000
- 65th - Vancouver - $47,000.
However, these numbers are distorted by tax and the currency exchange. When adjusted to Purchase Power Parity (PPP), the real purchasing power of the average consumer, most cities come in around the $30,000 level, except Moscow.
To be fair, Moscow has 87 billionaires. They are mostly ex-politicians, ex-KGB, and criminals and contribute greatly to the high cost of living. I doubt they are included in the official statistics as most are tax exiles. Who says there is no money in Communism, it’s just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
In Norway, the cost of goods is generally twice as much as those in many western countries. Labour costs are also twice as much and you would expect this is the case so that people can afford the cost of goods. You would be wrong.
It is a tax generating system to keep the unemployment rate low. The slack is taken up by employing government spreadsheet jockeys to devise and calculate complex tax systems. Go figure.
I now have a great empathy for struggling families trying to make ends meet. Just speaking to people at the golf club and the yacht club in Oslo about their economic challenges has given me a great insight to how the other half live.
It would appear they have champagne taste, on a premium beer budget.
Note: All figures in USD.