Singapore still world's most expensive city, says EIU

Singapore's Marina Bay area and financial district. Singapore is the world's most expensive city for the second year running, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Singapore's Marina Bay area and financial district. Singapore is the world's most expensive city for the second year running, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore is the world's most expensive city for the second year running, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

There is one caveat, however.

The EIU notes that Zurich and Geneva would actually top Singapore at current exchange rates if its Worldwide Cost of Living Survey took into account the recent jump in the value of the Swiss franc after Switzerland unpegged its currency from the euro.

As such, the top five most expensive cities in the world remain unchanged from a year earlier and include, in descending order, Paris, Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.

-- GRAPHIC: THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

The EIU's bi-annual survey, released on Tuesday, comprises 133 cities worldwide and uses New York as a base. It compares the cost of more than 160 services and products including food, clothing and utility bills.

The information gathered for the survey is designed to be used online as a way to calculate the cost of relocating and living for expatriates and business travellers.

Here's how Singapore compares to New York:

- 11 per cent more expensive for basic groceries.

- Over 50 per cent more expensive for clothes. Together with Seoul, the most expensive place in the world to shop for clothes.

- Three times more expensive for transport - after factoring in the effect of Certificate of Entitlement system on car prices.

The EIU said it was "very rare" to have an unchanged top five in their survey, especially taking into account that tumbling oil prices, deflation and currency movements have affected the cost of living in several cities.

Tokyo, for example, has fallen to 11th place this year as the yen weakened against the US dollar and deflation continued to impact the economy. The Japanese capital topped the list in 2013 but was replaced by Singapore in 2014.

A plunging currency sent Venezuela's capital, Caracas, sliding 124 places in the ranking, from the sixth most expensive city last year, to one of the cheapest this year.

Some of India's cities stand out as the least expensive in the world, with Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai included in the five cheapest.

The EIU said low wages and price subsidies on some staples had contributed to Indian cities' place in the survey.

ann@sph.com.sg