Life in Oslo, World's Most Expensive City

Kristin Joys discusses the high prices in Oslo, Norway, where she is a real estate agent. Joys talks about how expensive everything is and how locals deal with the high cost of living. Oslo overtook Tokyo this week as the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

If you're heading to Oslo, be prepared to shell out lots Kroner. It's now the most expensive city in the world. That, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's biannual worldwide cost of living survey. Oslo has dethroned Tokyo, which held the top spot for 14 years. For a sense of what it costs to live in Oslo, we've called Kristin Joys, she's a real estate agent in the Norwegian capital. Thanks for being with us. And give us a sense of a daily event. Maybe a cup of coffee in Oslo, what would that cost?

Ms. KRISTIN JOYS (Real Estate Agent, Oslo): A cup of coffee would cost 15 Kroners if you go to a coffee bar.

BLOCK: Fifteen Kroners; now one Kroner is 15 cents.

Ms. JOYS: So I would say it's about $2.

BLOCK: Two dollars, okay, well that sounds about what you might end up paying here, in some parts of the country anyway, depending on how good that coffee is. What about a movie ticket?

Ms. JOYS: One-hundred Kroners.

BLOCK: One-hundred Kroners, so $15.00.

Ms. JOYS: Yeah.

BLOCK: That better be a good movie.

Ms. JOYS: Well, yes, I've just been to the PENGUIN'S MARCH today.

BLOCK: Oh, THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS,

Ms. JOYS: Yeah, MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, yes.

BLOCK: And was it worth the 100 Kroners?

Ms. JOYS: To me, yes, but not to my grandchildren who are six and eight.

BLOCK: They didn't think it was worth the price.

Ms. JOYS: They thought it was a little too much walking.

BLOCK: Too much walking of the penguins.

Ms. JOYS: Not happening anything.

BLOCK: Now if you go out to dinner at a reasonably nice restaurant, nothing extravagant, but just something decent. What would you end up paying for two people would you say.

Ms. JOYS: For two people, if you have some glasses of wine, you would end up paying about 1,000 Kroners each, 2,000 Kroners.

BLOCK: That's about $300, I think. That would make you think twice for sure.

Mr. JOYS: Yeah, absolutely.

BLOCK: Is it the kind of thing that you get used to, that this is just what things cost in Norway?

Ms. JOYS: Well yes, it looks like people are getting used to it. I am not, because I think twice to go to the restaurant, but I think the average people they do, the young people go much more to restaurants than my generation. I'm 60 years old and I'm not used to these prices, but the young people are.

BLOCK: There must be bargains. There must be something that's just a great deal.

Ms. JOYS: Yes, well, you don't pay anything for the nature we have.

BLOCK: Yeah, that's free.

Ms. JOYS: That's free, yes. It's difficult to find bargains, but it's a good country to live in, peaceful, and the bargain is that you can walk on the streets and feel fairly secure. But bargains, when you go shopping, no I don't think so.

BLOCK: Well, Kristin Joys, it's good to talk with you. Thanks very much.

Ms. JOYS: Thank you for calling me.

BLOCK: Kristin Joys spoke with us from Oslo. Again, the newly named most expensive city in the world. Eight of the top 10 cities on the Economist Intelligence Unit's list are in Europe. They include London at number seven, Paris at number four, and Zurich and Geneva at numbers eight and nine.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Tokyo, which has, as Melissa has said, held the top spot since 1991, now falls to number two, with its neighbor Osaka tied with Paris for number four. Perhaps the United States can be happy that it doesn't do very well on this list. New York City ranks as most expensive among American cities, but globally, it's only number 27.

BLOCK: As for the least expensive cities in the world where bargains abound, it's San Jose, Costa Rica, at 120, New Delhi at 122, Manila and the Philippines at 127, and the winner, the least expensive city, it's the capital of Iran. Tehran is ranked 128.

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