Foreigners get more bang for their buck in Wellington, which is among the cheapest cities in the world to live.
Wellington ranked 139 out of 143 cities across six continents in the Mercer worldwide Cost of Living survey, carried out in March.
Tokyo, ranked No 1, is the most expensive city and Johannesburg the cheapest.
The survey measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items, including housing, entertainment, clothing, food and transport, in each location.
A reshuffle in rankings because of the global economic crisis and currency fluctuations meant Wellington dropped 46 places and put Auckland one spot ahead at 138, down from 78 last year.
Mercer spokesman Rob Knox said the flipside of the fall of the Kiwi dollar was that New Zealand cities were now more affordable for expatriates and were competitive places for overseas companies to develop business links and send employees.
"This helps make New Zealand a very attractive hub for companies looking to increase their presence in the Asia Pacific region."
At the top of the scale, Tokyo toppled Moscow, which now ranks the third most expensive city, behind Osaka. Zurich, New York, Beijing and Singapore were also in the 10 most expensive cities.
London, which ranked third in 2008, dropped 13 places. In Australia, Sydney remained its most expensive city but dropped from 15th to 66th place.
Vienna tops the rankings for best value in the quality of living and Baghdad was last. In the quality of living scale, Wellington ranked 12th and Auckland was tied for fourth with Vancouver.
IS WELLINGTON A CHEAP CITY?
Chloe Jung, 20, of Korea: "Not at all. I've lived in Tokyo before and housing and rent is about the same. Even the food is cheaper in Tokyo."
Kelvin Kang, 22, from Malaysia: "No way. Accommodation and food are expensive here. But milk is cheap because we import milk where I'm from."
Yang Yang, 18, of China: "Compared to China, it's expensive here but some things are cheaper like woollen clothing. Cars here are cheap and buying houses."
Ausama Aldin, 30, from Palestine: "It's not too bad if you have a good job. The food is cheaper here."
Samson Sahele, 35, of Ethiopia: "Yes, it is. The accommodation is cheap and the transport is handy, you don't even need a car here. But food is about the same."
Gary Liu, 28, from China: "Ha ha, no, I don't think so. Everything is much more expensive, food and rent maybe three times more than my home town."
THE FLAT WHITE INDEX
Snapshot of comparative costs in February in NZ dollars
A cup of coffee, including service
1. Tokyo: $12.61
3. Moscow: $13.58
9. Beijing: $12.76
13. Paris: $11.42
16. London: $6.17
139. Wellington: $4
143. Johannesburg: $3.49
One litre of petrol,
1. Tokyo: $2.35
3. Moscow: $1.12
9. Beijing: $1.51
13. Paris: $2.95
16. London: $2.52
139. Wellington: $1.57
143. Johannesburg: $1.24
Litre of pasteurised milk
1. Tokyo: $5
3. Moscow: $3.63
9. Beijing: $5.10
13. Paris: $3.61
16. London: $2.13
139. Wellington: $2.23
143. Johannesburg: $1.86
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which of these best describes your home?Related story: Homes may be making children sick