Singapore remains the most expensive city in the world, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report.
The survey compares more than 400 individual prices across over 150 products and services. Paris and Zurich tied for second place, while Tokyo, the costliest city in 2013, and Osaka dropped out of the top 10, due to low inflation, the report said.
Hong Kong, the second-most expensive city in 2017, dropped to fourth place, while Sydney snuck into the top 10.
“Currency fluctuations continue to be a major cause for changes in the ranking,” the EIU said.
New York has moved four places down the ranking to 13th position owing to a weakening of the US dollar in 2017, which has also affected the position of other US cities, the EIU said.
Bloomberg noted that the dollar fell against all G-10 currencies last year, with the euro rising more than 14%.
Despite topping the ranking, Singapore still offers relative value in some categories, especially compared with its regional peers, the report said.
“For categories such as personal care, household goods and domestic help Singapore remains significantly cheaper than its peers, but it remains the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car and the third-priciest destination in which to buy clothes.
“In terms of food and drink, the cost of living in Singapore is on a par with that of Shanghai in China. Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong are the three most expensive places in the world to buy staple goods. In Seoul, topping up a grocery basket is almost 50% more expensive than in New York.”
Syria’s capital, Damascus, fell 14 places in the past 12 months, to ranked as the cheapest country. Joining Damascus at the bottom is Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, which fell by 13 places to 132nd place amid currency devaluation.
“Although the Indian subcontinent remains structurally cheap, instability is becoming an increasingly prominent factor in lowering the relative cost of living of a location. This means that there is a considerable element of risk in some of the world’s cheapest cities.”
Karachi, Algiers, Almaty and Lagos have faced well-documented economic, political, security and infrastructural challenges, and there is some correlation between The Economist Intelligence Unit’s cost of living ranking and its sister ranking, the liveability survey.
“Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable,” the report said.
For South Africa, both Pretoria and Johannesburg were among the highest climbers during 2017, as the rand gained in value against a weaker dollar, boosted also by political changes locally.