Norway has a lot to be proud of these days. Though the country's highly regarded biathlete— highly regarded, at least in Norway—Ole Einar Bjoerndalen failed to repeat his record-setting feat of four years ago, when he captured four gold medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics, he did not leave the recent Olympic Games in Turin empty-handed, winning two silver medals. And with three days left in the Games, Norway has already racked up a total of 18 medals, tying the United States in second place.
Nevertheless, in another, more dubious, respect, Norway comes in first: Oslo, the country's capital, is the most expensive city in the world according to a survey released last month by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Perhaps just as remarkable as Oslo's emergence in the top spot is the fact that it overtook Tokyo, which had reigned supreme as the world's priciest metropolis for the past 14 years. Rounding out the top ten: Reykjavik, Osaka, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Zurich, Geneva and Helsinki.
The survey pointed out that the results “highlight a much wider increase in the relative cost of living across Europe, driven by the long-term underperformance of the dollar.” The relative weakness of the US currency was demonstrated by the rankings of American cities: New York, the most expensive in the US, was only 27th overall. The least expensive city in the world: Tehran.
Kristin Joys, a real estate broker in the Norwegian capital, told NPR that an average dinner for two in Oslo costs approximately $300. That makes New York seem like a relative bargain—and suggests that Bjoerndalen and his fellow Olympians may do well to hold onto those gold medals. If they live in Oslo, they might need them.