Thursday, July 24, 2008

S'pore Is 13th Most Expensive City

Source : The Business Times, July 24, 2008

It is also the 5th costliest in Asia for expats: Mercer survey

SINGAPORE is the world's 13th most expensive city for expatriates, and the fifth most expensive in Asia.

According to Mercer's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2008, Singapore ranks above Sydney (15th), New York (22nd) and Shanghai (24th).

Mercer's survey, which covers 143 cities on six continents, measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

For instance, a fast-food hamburger meal costs US$4.50 in Singapore, US$3.18 in Hong Kong and US$5.97 in Tokyo.

Mercer's managing director (Asean) Su-Yen Wong said: 'Singapore's rise in the rankings is partly due to the appreciation of the Singapore dollar against the US dollar.' At the same time, Singapore's strength as a regional hub and its 'high quality of living' have attracted talent from overseas. 'Consequently, this has increased demand for items such as housing, food and transport.'

Rents have increased significantly here. According to Mercer, a 'luxury' two-bedroom unfurnished apartment now costs US$3,539.77 a month, an increase of about 20 per cent from US$2,946.09 in 2007.

But 'luxury' rent here is lower than in Hong Kong at US$6,411.89 a month and Tokyo at US$5,128.84.

On the upside, Singapore's annual ranking has not increased as rapidly as before. Its 13th place this year is only a notch up from its 14th last year. In 2006 it ranked 17th - way up from 2005 when it was 34th.

In the latest survey, Moscow has been ranked the world's most expensive city for expatriates - for a third straight year. London dropped one place to third.

Yvonne Traber, a principal and research manager at Mercer, said: 'Although the traditionally expensive cities of Western Europe and Asia still feature in the Top 20, cities in Eastern Europe, Brazil and India are creeping up the list. Conversely, some locations such as Stockholm and New York now appear less costly by comparison.'

With New York as the base city at 100 points, Moscow scored 142.4 and is close to three times costlier than Asunción in Paraguay, the least expensive city with a score of 52.5.

Mercer noted that contrary to a trend last year, the gap between the world's most and least expensive cities now seems to be widening.

In its report, it says: 'Our research confirms the global trend in price increases for certain food items and petrol, though the rise is not consistent in all locations. This is partly balanced by decreasing prices for certain commodities, such as electronic and electrical goods. We attribute this to cheaper imports from developing countries, especially China, and to advances in technology.'

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