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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New York a Bargain in Comparison to Moscow

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Moscow is the most expensive city in the world for the second year in row. According to the yearly rating by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Moscow is 34.4 percent more expensive than New York. How accurate is this rating?

Moscow prices do exceed those of New York by a large margin on most goods. Almost any shopping item you can imagine is cheaper in New York than in Moscow: Clothes, cars, jewelry, furniture, supermarkets and restaurants are considerably cheaper. Even expensive restaurants and gourmet-food stores are much more affordable in New York. For example, Dean and Deluca's prices are half those of Globus Gourmet. Moreover, the affordable mid-market brands, like Gap or Banana Republic, are not even represented in Moscow.

Entertainment, which was cheaper in Moscow for years, has now become cheaper in New York. You can get a decent parquet ticket to the Met for $65, while an equivalent ticket at the Bolshoi costs more than $120.

But real estate is the main driver in the cost-of-living index. In this area, New York is cheaper than Moscow. Moreover, the variety and quality of Moscow real estate lags far behind. New York's new luxury condos can be much cheaper than Moscow's. Many beautiful new buildings in good locations, such as the White Space in Chelsea or Phillip Stark's Gramercy, are priced around $12,000 per square meter. In Moscow, such properties would go for $25,000 to $30,000 per square meter. Most of the new buildings also offer services that are not available in Moscow, such as library rooms, common terraces, entertainment spaces and elaborate concierge services.

But real estate services -- with the exception of mortgage rates -- tend to be more expensive in New York. Taxes, maintenance, brokerage fees and acquisition expenses are much higher in New York. As a consolation, though, most of these expenses are tax deductible. U.S. property taxes are charged on the assessed value, which is much closer to the market value than the nominal prices that are used for the same purpose in Moscow. Profits realized from real estate appreciation are taxed at 15 percent for residents and local companies, so the difference with Russia's 13 percent rate is marginal, but still favors Moscow.

Although, on the whole, the grass is greener on the other side of the ocean, there are two key items that are clearly more expensive in New York than in Moscow: education and health care. But this is still a great opportunity for a smart investor to buy a beautiful pied-a-terre in the Big Apple -- particularly if he is already healthy and well-educated.

Anya Levitov is a managing partner of Evans Property Services.