Buenos Aires is the costliest city in Latin America for expats for the second year running according to an annual Cost of Living survey by consulting firm Mercer.
The Argentine capital is ranked 41 out of 209 cities in the survey, conducted in March 2016, which measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.
The survey is aimed at governments and multinationals to calculate the living costs and housing arrangements for employees transferred abroad.
Buenos Aires fell 22 places from 19th in 2015, mostly due to the currency devaluation implemented in December. However, it remained far ahead of other regional cities, with Puerto Rico’s San Juan the next on the list at 67th.
Meanwhile, Brazilian cities Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro fell dramatically to 128th and 156th, respectively, due to the sharp depreciation of the local currency.
The Mercer survey was released a day after Spanish newspaper El Pais published a study that also showed prices of goods and services (in US dollar terms) to be higher in Buenos Aires than other major cities in Latin America.
El Pais reported that a cup of coffee in a central location costs US$2 in Buenos Aires compared to US$1.5 in Mexico D.F and US$0.5 in Bogota. A litre of milk, car parking, and rent were also most expensive in Buenos Aires, though the study noted that the minimum wage in Argentina was significantly higher than in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.
Inflation has been high in Argentina for several years, but underplayed in official statistics by the previous government. and accelerated in the first half of 2016 amid sharp hikes for utility and transport tariffs.
According to latest figures from the Buenos Aires Office for Statistics and Census, consumer prices rose a cumulative 22.9% in the first five months of 2016, with annual inflation estimated at 44.4% in May.