Singapore, New York top ‘world’s costliest city’ survey

Singapore and New York have displaced the previous No. 1, Tel Aviv, in the Worldwide Cost of Living index. PHOTOS: ST FILE, REUTERS

LONDON – Singapore and New York are jointly the world’s most expensive cities after inflation soared in 2022, an annual survey showed on Thursday.

The pair displaced the previous No. 1, Tel Aviv, which fell to third place in the Worldwide Cost of Living index from the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), reported AFP.

The survey revealed “the soaring cost of living in the world’s biggest cities as the war in Ukraine and continuing pandemic restrictions disrupt supply chains, particularly for energy and food”.

New York hit the top spot for the first time. Los Angeles and San Francisco also moved into the top 10, while Damascus and Tripoli remained the cheapest cities.

Prices rocketed by an average of 8.1 per cent in the 172 major cities covered by the EIU survey, conducted between August and September.

Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said the EIU report comes at a time when many countries around the world are facing strong inflationary pressures. But the survey, designed to help human resource managers gauge the cost-of-living allowances for expatriates and business travellers, “does not reflect the cost of living for Singaporeans”, a MTI spokesman said.

The EIU survey’s consumption basket, which includes items like Burberry-type raincoats and foreign daily newspapers, “does not reflect what Singaporeans usually consume”, the spokesman added.

The index also showed “the impact of the strong US dollar” on the city rankings, AFP reported. A total of 50,000 worldwide prices were converted into dollars to facilitate comparisons. The US currency has jumped in 2022 as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates by large amounts to try to tame decades-high inflation.

Singapore’s MTI spokesman said due to the currency conversion, Singapore’s strong exchange rate contributed to its high ranking in the index.

“However, a stronger currency does not raise the cost of living of Singaporeans who earn their income in Singapore dollars. On the contrary, a stronger Singapore dollar helps to dampen imported inflation in Singapore by lowering the prices of our imports (in Singapore dollars) and subsequently, consumer prices,” the MTI spokesman added.

The biggest upward movers in the EIU survey were Moscow and St Petersburg, “which shot up by 88 and 70 places respectively as prices soared amid Western sanctions and buoyant energy markets supported the rouble”.

Ms Upasana Dutt, who headed the research, said “the war in Ukraine, Western sanctions on Russia and China’s zero-Covid-19 policies have caused supply chain problems that, combined with rising interest rates and exchange rate shifts, have resulted in a cost-of-living crisis across the world”.

“We can clearly see the impact in this year’s index, with the average price rise across the 172 cities in our survey being the strongest we have seen in the 20 years for which we have digital data,” she said.

World’s most expensive cities to live in

1. Singapore/New York

3. Tel Aviv

4. Hong Kong/Los Angeles

6. Zurich

7. Geneva

8. San Francisco

9. Paris

10. Copenhagen

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