Asian cities are getting more expensive, Singapore tops the list for 4th consecutive year

Singapore skyline

PETALING JAYA (March 23): According to the “Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2017” by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Singapore is the most expensive city in the world, with Asia being home to five out of the top six priciest cities in the survey.

The EIU is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group where the Worldwide Cost of Living is a bi-annual survey that compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services.

“Singapore retains its title as the world’s most expensive city for a fourth consecutive year. Not only has Singapore stayed top but Hong Kong remains second, closely followed by Zurich. Meanwhile, the rise in the relative cost of living in Seoul has continued, it now occupies the sixth place,” the survey revealed.

Back home in Kuala Lumpur, the city is ranked 96th, same as Bogota, the capital of Colombia.

The survey also saw a return of Tokyo and Osaka to the top 10 most expensive cities list. Tokyo was the world’s most expensive city until 2012.

Chinese cities however, have moved down the ranks by between five and 16 places each, due to a weakening consumption growth and the steady devaluation of the renminbi.

Meanwhile, owing to a slight weakening of the US dollar, New York has fallen to ninth place. This in return pushed Sydney and Melbourne of Australia as well as Wellington and Auckland of New Zealand to be featured among the 20 most expensive cities.

“Taking an average of the indices for all cities surveyed using New York as base city, the global cost of living has risen to 74%, up slightly from 73% last year.

“This remains significantly lower than five years ago when the average cost of living index across 133 cities was at an all-time high of 93.5%,” said EIU.

Over in the UK, the depreciation of sterling after the Brexit referendum has helped bump London and Manchester sharply down the rankings; London is ranked 24th — its lowest position in 20 years, while Manchester is ranked 51st.

Although Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive cities, it is home to the world’s cheapest cities as well.

“Within Asia, the best value for money has traditionally come from South Asian cities, particularly those in India and Pakistan. To an extent this remains true, and Bangalore, Chennai, Karachi, Mumbai and New Delhi make up half of the 10 cheapest locations surveyed,” said the survey.

Moving forward, EIU claimed that there are already indications of further changes that are “set to take place” during the coming year.

“Oil prices bottomed-out in 2016 but are set to rise again during the coming year. Similarly, the other commodity prices are expected to rebound from 2017, after five consecutive years of decline.

“Equally, exchange-rate volatility has meant that, while Asian cities have largely risen in cost of living terms, many urban centres in China and Australia have seen contrasting movements from year to year.

“It is also worth remembering that local inflation driven by instability is often counteracted by economic weakness and slumping exchange rates. As a result, cities that see the highest inflation will often see their cost of living fall compared with that of their global peers,” said EIU.



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