Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

Singapore and Hong Kong Top World’s Most Expensive Cities

Zurich is the only non-Asian city to crack the top 5
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Tokyo returned to the ranks of the world’s 10 costliest cities in 2017 as Asia’s representation expanded, reflecting the region’s rising clout in the global economy.

Japan’s capital, the world’s costliest city until 2012, jumped seven places to No. 4 this year and Osaka climbed nine notches to No. 5, both bolstered by a resurgent yen, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey showed Tuesday. Singapore and Hong Kong retained the top two spots and Seoul came in sixth. Zurich, the third most expensive, was the only impediment to Asia holding all top five slots.

Asia accounts for 40 percent of the global economy and in the four years to 2020 is predicted by the International Monetary Fund to contribute two-thirds of worldwide growth. At the same time, cities in China, the region’s economic powerhouse, slipped by between five and 16 places due to weakening consumption and a depreciation in the renminbi, the report showed.

Europe had four cities in the top 10, with Geneva, Paris and Copenhagen joining Zurich. The French capital was the only euro zone city among the top 10, remaining “structurally extremely expensive to live in, with only alcohol and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities,” the EIU said. 

New York was the only representative from North America, slipping to ninth from seventh due to a slight weakening of the dollar. 

The greenback’s moderation and the euro remaining relatively steady meant the currencies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand appreciated. As a result, Sydney climbed to 14th spot and Melbourne to 15th, meaning they’re more expensive than Shanghai. Auckland and Wellington jumped 22 and 26 places respectively to be inside the top 20.

Singapore’s ranking as the world’s priciest city for the fourth consecutive year is largely due to the cost of owning a car there being the highest in the world. It is also the second-priciest for clothing.

”Singapore’s position is skewed slightly by the complex system for buying and registering cars as well as relatively high incomes, which means that it remains relatively affordable for many residents," said Jon Copestake, editor of the survey.

The report, which compared prices of over 150 items across 133 cities, showed London and Manchester slid in response to uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the ensuing depreciation of the pound.

Rebounding prices continued to impact the cost of living in commodity-reliant countries, with the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro the fastest-rising in terms of cost of living, moving up 29 and 27 places respectively.

While Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive metropolises, it is also site of some of the cheapest, too. South Asian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Karachi, Mumbai and New Delhi represent excellent value for money, according to the survey. This year, Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business center, and Lagos in Nigeria were ranked the world’s cheapest.

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