S'pore is 6th most expensive city

PHOTO: S'pore is 6th most expensive city

SINGAPORE - Singapore is the sixth most expensive city in the world, moving up three places from last year, according to the latest report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The city-state continues to be the third most expensive city in Asia, after Japanese cities Tokyo and Osaka, unchanged from the last two years.

Tokyo has topped the list again, as it has 14 times in the last 20 years, after being ousted by Zurich last year, the survey showed.

Hong Kong, a city oft compared to Singapore, was 14th on a global scale and fourth in Asia. Its global ranking had risen by eight spots from last year.

Shanghai, up 11 spots from last year, was the most expensive city in mainland China, followed by Guangzhou.

The EIU Worldwide Cost of Living report noted that Asian and Australian cities have moved rapidly up the ranking. Asian cities now number 11 in the top 20.

Mr Jon Copestake, editor of the report, told reporters that the cost of living in Asian cities has been "rising on the back of wage growth and economic optimism".

Due to economic growth and a strong Australian dollar, Sydney and Melbourne moved up four places in the ranking.

In comparison, costs in Europe have seen relative declines partly due to austerity measures. Zurich fell six places to seventh place due to a sharp fall in the value of the franc.

So, while Singapore's consumer-price index was up by 4.6 per cent last year, a strong exchange rate and the relative decline in European cities' ranking were also factors for its climb to sixth place.

A surprising inclusion in the top 10 is Caracas, Venezuela. This is partly because of high inflation, but also an abberation due to its fixed exchange rate which is pegged to the US dollar.

Results of the survey of 140 cities are released twice a year and compares 400 individual price points across 160 products and services, including items such as food, drink, rentals, utility bills, schooling costs and household supplies.

All cities in the report are compared to New York as a base point, which is scored as 100 in the index.

Singapore's score is 135, while that of Tokyo is 152.

Asia is also home to some of the cheapest cities in the world.

Mumbai and Karachi tie for the least expensive city, while the Indian capital New Delhi is the third least expensive.

According to the report, income inequality in India "means that household spending levels are low on a per capita basis", despite India's economic growth potential.

Another global survey last year had ranked Singapore as the sixth most expensive city in the world for expatriates.

Mercer's Cost of Living survey had Singapore and Zurich sharing sixth place, and Hong Kong in ninth.