FOREIGNERS living in Johannesburg are enjoying the good life.

FOREIGNERS living in Johannesburg are enjoying the good life.

The 2009 cost of living survey by international consultancy Mercer says the city is the cheapest to live in for expatriates, replacing Asuncion in Paraguay.

The survey covers 143 cities across the world and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items including housing, transport, food, clothing, entertainment and household goods.

Last year's runner-up, Tokyo, takes over the top spot as the priciest city on Earth to live in, while another Japanese city, Osaka, moves from 11th last year to second on this year's list.

The survey said this was largely due to the strength of the yen against the US dollar.

Moscow, last year's most expensive city, now moves down to third with Geneva and Hong Kong ranking fourth and fifth as Asian and European cities dominated the top 10 spots.

The survey was conducted in March and uses New York as the base city for the index, with currency moves measured against the dollar.

New York itself jumped to eighth from 22nd last year.

Said senior Mercer researcher Nathalie Constantin-Mentral: "The impact of the economic downturn over the last year has led to significant fluctuations in most of the world's currencies, which have had a profound impact on this year's rankings."

She said cost containment and reduction was at the top of most company agendas, dictating the cost of living for expatriates.

In the Middle East, Tel Aviv in Israel ranked as the most expensive, while Caracas in Venezuela was top in South America. Sydney was the priciest city for expatriates in the Pacific. - Reuters