S'pore named world's most expensive city for expats again

Singapore is still the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car and the second-priciest destination for clothes, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Singapore is still the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car and the second-priciest destination for clothes, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Singapore has been judged the world's most expensive city for expatriates a fourth straight year.

And Asia now accounts for half of the 10 priciest centres, after Tokyo and Osaka moved up in the rankings following a sustained recovery in the strength of the yen.

Hong Kong was the second most expensive city in the world, followed by Zurich in third place, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit yesterday.

Tokyo ranked fourth, followed by Osaka then Seoul. The South Korean capital's rapid rise - it ranked as low as 50 just seven years ago - contrasts with a fall among Chinese cities, where weaker consumption growth and a steady devaluation of the yuan has resulted in China's urban centres moving down in the annual rankings.

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 here. 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.

  • TOP 10

    1 Singapore (1)*

    2 Hong Kong (2)

    3 Zurich (2)

    4 Tokyo (11)

    5 Osaka (14)

    6 Seoul (8)

    7 Geneva (3)

    8 Paris (4)

    9 New York (6)

    10 Copenhagen (7)

    * ( ) Previous rank

    SOURCE: THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

Topping up a grocery basket in Seoul 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 and the second-priciest destination for clothes.

And while Asia is home to some of the world's most expensive cities, it is also home to many of the world's cheapest centres too.

Bangalore, Chennai, Karachi, Mumbai and New Delhi make up half of the 10 cheapest locations surveyed.

The EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey is designed to help human resource and finance managers calculate allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers.

The survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including food, clothing, household supplies, home rents and transport.

The items tend towards the higher end, such as filet mignon and international foreign daily newspapers, which do not reflect the average consumption patterns of Singaporean households.

Currency fluctuations can also affect the ranking and cost of expatriates, who earn their living in foreign currencies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore named world's most expensive city for expats again'. Print Edition | Subscribe