So much for bragging about a low cost of living in Minneapolis to out-of-town friends and relatives.

Minneapolis ranked third in the latest annual survey of expenses by the Economist magazine's data business, called the Economist Intelligence Unit. It ranked 26th among the major world cities surveyed by the magazine. Singapore and Paris were found to have the highest expenses in the world.

In the U.S., Minneapolis was topped only by New York and Los Angeles, with Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and Vancouver trailing behind. In previous years, Minneapolis typically trailed all those cities.

The Economist conducts the survey twice a year to help multinational companies set salary and benefit packages for executives who are sent overseas from headquarters' offices.

The survey does not include the cost of buying a house, a practice that is uncommon for expats. It instead looks at rental prices, chiefly for higher-end homes and apartments that would be used by an expat executive. As a result, the survey is less valuable as a tool for comparing the expenses faced by people who are natives or settle down for long periods in a place.

As well, Economist Intelligence Unit surveyors find the cost of more than 160 items, chiefly goods at stores and services commonly used in households. In some cases, surveyors gather prices for several brands of an item and average it out. The survey also measures for costs, such as live-in help, that seem exceptional in the Twin Cities.

The firm then creates an index ranking with New York, home to many multinational firms, as the base. This year, all U.S. cities except Boston fell on the ranking of index values, chiefly due to the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against other currencies. No U.S. city ranked in the top 10 places with highest living expenses.

Minneapolis' index position also fell this year, and was around 86 to New York's 100. Minneapolis was one of five North American cities to have higher costs, even accounting for the change in the dollar's value, than it did a decade ago.

After Singapore and Paris, the cities with the highest expenses are Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo, Geneva, Seoul, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Sydney.

Damascus and Caracas, cities that have been affected by geopolitical challenges, had the lowest expenses of the items and services measured by the Economist. The biggest drop in expenses relative to other cities over the past year happened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the local currency lost nearly half its value.

The complete report can be found at

Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252

Evan Ramstad • 612-673-4241