Singapore once again topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living survey, making this the third year in a row. However, Zurich in Switzerland and Hong Kong are closing in, with Hong Kong gaining seven places up the table in the last 12 months.
London, New York and Los Angeles leapt to the sixth, seventh and eighth place, with New York moving up 42 spots, its highest position since 2002 due to the strong U.S. dollar. These cities have ousted cities in Australia like Sydney and Melbourne, often quoted as the best cities to live in, out of the top 10.
But the question we want to ask is “is Singapore really that expensive to live in?”. The annual report, which surveys 133 cities twice annually to determine the ranking, says that Singapore’s high transport and utility costs are the main reasons why the city is so costly to live in. Though we agree with their findings that Singapore is the most expensive place in the world to buy a car due to the Certificate of Entitlement system, we are not too sure if our public transportation is 2.7 times more costly than New York. Although it is unclear what defines public transport, a quick search on Google indicates that a Single Trip ticket on the New York metro costs S$4.13 (USD$3) while a similar ticket on the MRT in Singapore costs only S$2.03 if you travel from one end of the country to the other (Pasir Ris to Joo Koon).
“It is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car, thanks to Singapore’s complex Certificate of Entitlement system,” – Economist Intelligence Unit
Singapore also remains consistently expensive in other categories like clothes and utility bills according to the report. But despite topping the ranking, the report says that Singapore is still relatively affordable in certain categories when compared to peers in the region. For example, groceries are 26% more expensive in Seoul, 26% in Tokyo and 28% in Hong Kong than prices in Singapore.
Food is another area we find affordable in Singapore. For example, it is not difficult to find good food on the island going for under S$5 in coffee shops and hawker centres. But once you hit the restaurants, even the most basic kind, prices can shoot up substantially.
So in summary, Singapore is a great place to live in comfortably without having to go from paycheck to paycheck. It all depends on your lifestyle. This is why we totally agree with the report that Singapore is a place where”value for money can be found by those who seek it”.
World’s 10 most expensive cities in which to live in 2016
2. Zurich, Switzerland
2. Hong Kong
4. Geneva, Switzerland
7. New York
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
8. Seoul, South Korea
8. Los Angeles