Is Paris really that expensive to live in?

Paris shares 2nd slot with Singapore in the latest list of the world' s most expensive cities, according to this Economist survey. Many people will not be surprised: Paris is not a cheap city to live in by any stretch. But should it be second?

Beware of this survey: I have watched it for years, and once worked for the venerable place that authored it. I have no quibbles with the rigour of the EIU calculations, though would query their sample. Having lived in both  cities, I was always surprised to see Paris so far up the league tables and London so far down in terms of cost of living. Okay, a beer used to be pricier at a Champs-Elysée café terrasse compared with a Piccadilly pub, but a restaurant meal certainly wasn't. And nor were living expenses such as schooling or child care. As for a bottle of decent wine or fresh fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, Paris was far better value. 

Then I had the honour of conducting the EIU survey some 25 years ago; though it was for another city, I at least realised that the standard definition of an ex-pat shopping basket at the time was something quite Anglo-centric. So while the shopping basket was carefully filled with items an ex-pat business person might buy to allow for comparisons between a range of different world cities, it contained stuff that most Parisians would be quite unlikely to buy, such as a litre of ketchup and a pre-wrapped loaf of sliced white bread from a supermarket. Has that shopping basket evolved since then? Probably, though very likely still in line with Anglo ex-pat tastes, which would be fair enough given the EIU's audience. But Parisians (and as far as I can see, ex-pats enjoying Paris life) still stand in line to buy their bread in corner baker shops.

Maybe what is needed is an alternative shopping basket based on fresh street market produce and baguettes. If Paris remained among the world's most expensive cities on that basis, I for one would eat my chapeau. 

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