SINGAPORE: Singapore has jumped to the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) ranking of the world’s most expensive cities, overtaking the likes of Tokyo and Osaka as the Singapore dollar appreciated against the yen.
Singapore was ranked sixth in the EIU’s survey last year, behind the two Japanese cities, Sydney, Oslo and Melbourne.
According to the EIU, Osaka and Tokyo fell off the top of its cost of living ranking because of the weaker yen.
Tokyo, the most expensive city to live in for 2013, fell to joint sixth place alongside Caracas, Geneva and Melbourne, while Paris is second, ahead of Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.
Ten years ago, Singapore was number 18 on the list.
The EIU report compares the price of products and services such as food, clothing, transport and domestic help among 140 cities with New York city as a base.
According to the survey, Singapore’s curbs on car ownership, which include a quota system and high taxes, make it the most expensive city to run a car.
A new Toyota Corolla Altis, for example, could cost as much as US$110,000 in Singapore but only US$35,000 in Malaysia.
And overall transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than those in New York.
But the survey does not include public transport, which is most commonly used by Singaporeans.
In addition, the lack of natural resources and energy supplies means Singapore is the third most expensive city for utility costs.
The survey also shows that Singapore is the priciest place in the world to buy clothes, as shopping malls along the prime Orchard Road shopping belt import luxury European brands.
As for housing, Singapore, being smaller in size than New York City, has seen home prices jump to record highs in recent years amid rising wealth and an influx of foreigners.
But the survey does not include public housing.
And it must be noted that the EIU survey is aimed at helping companies and HR managers calculate allowances for executives or expatriates being sent overseas.
This means that their spending patterns may differ from locals. Hence, while cars and utilities are expensive, public transport and hawker food in Singapore are cheaper than in most developed cities.
And latest data also show that in January, consumer prices in Singapore rose at their slowest pace in four years, rising by 1.4 per cent from a year ago.