Hong Kong ranks as the fourth most expensive city for expatriates, while Taipei is the cheapest among a group of seven chosen for a government survey. Tokyo was the most expensive, followed by New York and London. Singapore was in fifth place, followed by Shanghai and Taipei, according to figures released yesterday by the Census and Statistics Department. The only category in which Hong Kong ranked cheapest was transport. London was most expensive in terms of buying and operating vehicles and public transport expenses. The most expensive city in the study for alcohol and tobacco was New York, while the lowest prices for drinks and cigarettes were found in Shanghai. Rental housing in Hong Kong was ranked fourth, down from second place last year, reflecting deflation in the property market. New York was the most expensive for expatriates renting accommodation and Taipei was the cheapest. Tokyo was found to drain pockets most in terms of food, utilities, clothing and miscellaneous goods such as books, CDs, cosmetics and jewellery. In overall terms, the study found costs of living were higher than Hong Kong in Tokyo (by 40 per cent), New York (36 per cent) and London (26 per cent). Cheaper than the SAR was Singapore (by nine per cent), Shanghai (25 per cent) and Taipei (28 per cent). The costs were based on the consumption pattern of a typical American expatriate household. A study in June last year by American management consultants Runzheimer International found the cost of living in Hong Kong for a family of three US expatriates was more than $1 million a year.