Singapore still the most expensive place to live

Singapore is still the world's most expensive city, according to the latest annual report from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Singapore has remained the world’s most expensive city for the fourth year in a row, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The EIU’s annual ranking of 133 cities around the world, based on the price of over 150 items (including cigarettes, wine, petrol and bread), found that Singapore was 20 per cent more expensive than New York and 5 per cent more costly than Hong Kong.

Hong Kong remained second, closely followed by Zurich in third place. Tokyo and Osaka also returned to the top 10. The Japanese capital, which was the world’s most expensive city until 2012, has moved seven places up the ranking.

With Japanese cities returning to the fold, Asia now accounts for half of the ten most expensive cities ranked – and five of the top six. Western Europe accounts for a further four cities. New York City is the lone North American representative.

The fluctuations are primarly due to changes in currencies. A sustained recovery in the strength of the Japanese yen helped to fuel Tokyo’s rise, while The Big Apple, which rose to seventh last year, has fallen to ninth, due to a slight weakening of the US dollar, which has also affected the position of other US cities. Nonetheless, the strength of the dollar in recent years has still helped the city to climb significantly higher than five years ago, when it was ranked 46th.

While Asia dominates at the top of the index, Australasia and Brazil saw the fastest rise in the relative cost of living this year. Conversely, continued uncertainty from the Brexit referendum has weighed on the strength of the British pound, pushing the UK cities of London and Manchester sharply down the rankings, with London at its lowest position in 20 years.

For categories such as personal care, household goods and domestic help, Singapore remains significantly cheaper than its peers, although it remains the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car, as well as the second-priciest destination in which to buy clothes. In terms of food and drink, the cost of living in Singapore is on a par with that of Shanghai. Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka present the three most expensive places in the world to buy staple
goods. In Seoul, topping up a grocery basket is almost 50 per cent more expensive than in New York.

Although the relative cost of living has fallen slightly in the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva, both remain cemented among the ten most expensive, in third
place and joint seventh place respectively. Joining Geneva in seventh place is Paris, which has featured among the ten most expensive cities for 15 years, although the relative cost of living in the French capital has moderated. With the euro weaker than the dollar, living in Paris is 7 per cent more expensive than living in New York, but just five years ago it was 50 per cent pricier.


Singapore: The world’s most expensive city

22nd March 2016

Singapore is still the world’s most expensive city, according to the latest annual report from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

This is the third year in a row that the city has been ranked number one by the EIU. The study compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food, drink, clothing, household supplies, transport and utility bills, to calculate the approximate cost of living around the world.

The report compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food, drink, clothing, household supplies, transport and utility bills. The survey is designed to calculate the cost-of-living around the world, helping you to influence strategic decision-making and answer vital business questions for your organisation.

Despite Singapore’s dominance, though, the city’s lead over the next two cities in the ranking – Zurich and Hong Kong – has almost disappeared, with Hong Kong rising seven places in the chart in the last 12 months alone.

London, New York and Los Angeles have also moved up the rankings to 6th, 7th and 8th place respectively, displacing Sydney, Melbourne and Oslo from the ten most expensive cities.

New York and Los Angeles’ climbs were fuelled by currency headwinds rather than significant local price rises, with a stronger dollar and localised inflation meaning that New York, in particular, continues to become more expensive relative to its global peers. In total, 16 US cities climbed up the table by an average of 18 placesm with both New York and Los Angeles making their first appearance in the top 10 in over a decade.

The report arrives against a backdrop of global fluctuation, as a result of falling oil and commodity prices, as well as currency devaluations and geopolitical uncertainty. All of these factors made last year one of the most volatile seen in the ranking’s history.

Indeed, with the falling cost of oil and a strong US dollar pushing down prices, local inflation has been relatively low across the US. Despite this, New York is in its highest global position since 2002 and has risen by some 42 places up the cost of living ranking since 2011.

The stronger US dollar and weaker euro has pushed euro zone cities further down the ranking, especially as weak consumer sentiment and depressed commodity prices have undermined inflation in terms of both supply and demand.
Paris is the only euro zone city in the top ten – it remains structurally extremely expensive to live in, with only alcohol and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars have also weakened significantly from highs of two years ago, making cities in Australasia more affordable to global

The unpegging of the Swiss franc from the euro, however, coupled with structurally high income and price levels, means that Zurich and Geneva will continue to vie for the unenviable title of Europe’s most expensive city. Neither city has suffered from Eurozone austerity or economic fallout from falling oil prices to the degree of their EU or Norwegian peers.

Despite topping the ranking, Singapore still offers relative value in some categories: the city offers the same value as New York for basic groceries, while Seoul is 33 per cent more expensive, Tokyo is 26 per cent more expensive and Hong Kong is 28 per cent pricier.

However, Singapore remains consistently expensive in other categories. It is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car, thanks to Singapore’s complex Certificate of Entitlement system. Transport costs in Singapore are also 2.7 times higher than in New York. Alongside Seoul, Singapore is also a very expensive city in which to buy clothes and pay for utility costs.