Singapore ranked world's most expensive city for expats for 4th straight year

The Central Business District (CBD) seen from Marina Bay Sands.
The Central Business District (CBD) seen from Marina Bay Sands.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Once again, Singapore has retained its title as the world's most expensive city for expatriates for a fourth straight year, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) latest league table.

Asia now accounts for half of the world's 10 most expensive cities for expatriates, after Tokyo and Osaka moved up in the rankings following a sustained recovery in the strength of the Japanese yen.

Hong Kong was the second most expensive city in the world, followed by Zurich in third place.

Tokyo ranked fourth, followed by Osaka, Seoul, Geneva, Paris, New York, and Copenhagen.

Despite topping the ranking, Singapore still offers relative value in some categories, especially compared with its regional peers, the EIU said.

For example, personal care, household goods and domestic help are significantly more affordable in Singapore versus its peers.

In terms of food and drink, the cost of living in Singapore is on a par with that of Shanghai, whereas Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka are 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.

Of course, Singapore is still the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car.

The city state is also the second-priciest destination in which to buy clothes.

The EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey is designed to help human resource and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers, and does not reflect the cost of living of Singaporean households.

The survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, clothing, household supplies, home rents, transport, utilities, private schools, domestic help and recreation.

Items in the EIU consumption basket tend towards higher-priced items, such as filet mignon and international foreign daily newspapers, which do not reflect the average consumption patterns of Singaporean households.

Currency fluctuations can affect the ranking and cost of expatriates, who earn their living in foreign currencies. These currency fluctuations have less impact on the cost of living of Singaporeans who earn their income in the local currency.