Asia Pacific is home to four of the top ten most expensive cities in the world for expatriates and business travelers, according to a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The biannual survey by the research and advisory firm compares the cost of living in 133 global cities based on prices of a basket of 160 products and services, ranging from food and drink to home rents, domestic help and private schools. Singapore holds onto its crown as the planet’s most expensive urban hub this year, with Hong Kong ranking fourth, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living 2018 report.
Seoul holds onto sixth place this year (although it’s now tied with Geneva), and Sydney rises up the ranks to grab tenth place among the world’s costliest conurbations. Dropping off the top ten list this year are Japan’s Tokyo and Osaka, which came in fourth and fifth place respectively in the EIU’s 2017 report.
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Singapore “remains the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car,” according to the report, owing to the government’s policy of making vehicles nearly unaffordable to encourage the use of public transportation. Further squeezing wallets in the city-state, Singapore is the world’s third priciest place to buy clothes.
The World’s Ten Priciest Cities
Despite these costs, the country is relatively cheap compared to its Asian peers when it comes to personal care, household goods and domestic help, the report finds.
As the EIU survey takes into account home rents rather than purchase prices, expats considering buying their own domicile in Singapore may wish to consult the 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, which rated the country as “seriously unaffordable.” The median home price in Singapore stands at 4.8 times the median annual household income, according to the global survey of 406 markets.
Infamously, Hong Kong is the most unaffordable city in the world according to that index of housing misery, with a price-to-income ratio of 18.1.
Funny Money Scrambles Ranking
Deflation and currency swings played a major role in determining the ranking of this year’s EIU report. Hong Kong’s descent from second to fourth place likely stemmed from the weakening US dollar, to which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged. Low inflation in Japan pushed Tokyo and Osaka out of the top ten league, with Tokyo – the world’s most expensive metropolis until 2013 – sliding a full seven places over the past year.
On the other end of the cost-of-living scale, India’s Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi are bargains, as is Karachi, Pakistan. All four Asian cities made it into the top ten cheapest list this year.