Overtaking Tokyo in 2013, Singapore was named the world’s most expensive city by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the third straight year. The good news for those traveling there is that the cost of living in Singapore has dropped 10 percent compared to last year’s numbers.
Twice annually for the past three decades, The Economist Intelligence Unit has conducted a survey to determine the worldwide cost of living, compared to the base city of New York. To come up with its ratings, researchers analyze more than 400 prices from 160 products and services in 133 cities around the world, including food, drink, clothing, rent, transportation, utility costs, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs. Human resource and finance managers can then use the information to calculate cost-of-living allowances and compensation packages for business travelers and expatriates.
Although European cities dominate the 2016 list, The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that the strong dollar pushed American cities up in the rankings. For the first time in 14 years, the Big Apple made the Top 10 Most Expensive Cities list. After Singapore, the Top 10 priciest cities are, in order, Zurich, Hong Kong, Geneva, Paris, London, New York, Copenhagen, Seoul and Los Angeles.
Some interesting findings include the fact that Hong Kong jumped seven places in the rankings compared to last year, while New York has leapfrogged 42 places since 2011. Singapore’s high transport and utility costs place it at the top of the list. The report notes that it is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car because of Singapore’s complex Certificate of Entitlement system. (Transportation costs in Singapore are 2.7 times higher than in New York.) Basic groceries, however, cost less in Singapore than in Hong Kong, Tokyo or Seoul.
The Least Expensive Cities to Live
The most affordable city identified by The Economist Intelligence Unit is Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Its overall cost of living is 41 percent less than New York’s. In the 2016 survey, India and Pakistan account for five of the Top 10 Least Expensive Cities to live in; Asia has six of the cheapest cities of the 133 cities studied.
In order, the Top 10 Least Expensive Cities are Lusaka, Bangalore (India), Mumbai, Karachi (Pakistan), Chennai (India), Algiers, Almaty (Kazakhstan), New Delhi, Caracas and Damascus.
Other low-cost cities include Rio de Janeiro, which dropped 52 places the rankings, and St. Petersburg and Moscow, which fell 51 and 63 places down in the ranking respectively. The latter two reflect a 40% decline in living costs in Russia over the previous year.