Singapore remains the world’s most expensive city to visit and live in, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). However, it is joined at the top of the survey ranking by two other cities – Hong Kong and Paris.
This is the first time in the 30-odd-year history of the survey that three cities have shared the top spot as the world’s most expensive city. Paris rose from second spot in the previous survey in 2018, while Hong Kong climbed three spots from fourth place. Zurich, which was second in the previous survey, dropped to fourth.
The biannual survey of 133 global cities, which was released on Tuesday (19 March), compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services in each city. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal-care items, as well as home rents and transport.
The survey is meant to help companies calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers.
Six cities more expensive than New York City
The four cities in the top two spots, together with joint fifth-placed cities Geneva and Osaka, are the only cities which are more expensive than New York City, which is used as the base city in the EIU’s comparison of costs of living.
Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris are 7 per cent more expensive than New York City. Zurich is 6 per cent, while Geneva and Osaka are 1 per cent more expensive.
Sharing seventh spot with New York City are Seoul and Copenhagen. Rounding up the top 10 most expensive cities in joint-10th spot are Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, both of which are 1 per cent less expensive than New York City.
According to the survey, while Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive cities, it also has many of the world’s cheapest and best value-for-money cities, such as Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi and Karachi.
And while India is tipped for rapid economic expansion, income inequality means that low wages are the norm, limiting household spending and creating many tiers of pricing as well as strong competition from a range of retail sources.
Combined with a cheap and plentiful supply of goods into cities from rural producers as well as government subsidies on some products, this has kept prices down in India’s cities, in comparison to Western cities.
US cities becoming more expensive due to strong US dollar
The survey also said that cities in the United States generally became more expensive globally, with a strong US dollar last year. New York City has moved up six places in the ranking, while Los Angeles has moved up four spots.
These movements represent a sharp increase in the relative cost of living compared with five years ago, when New York and Los Angeles were tied in 39th place.
When looking at the most expensive cities by category, Asian cities tend to be the priciest locations
for general grocery shopping. European cities tend to have the highest costs in the household, personal care, recreation and entertainment categories.
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