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Singapore maintains top spot as world's costliest city

Singapore maintains top spot as world's costliest city

SINGAPORE: Singapore maintained its global ranking as the most expensive city for a second straight year on higher prices of items from wine to cars, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The island nation beat Paris, Oslo, Zurich and Sydney, which also retained their spots in the ranking, the EIU's 2015 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey released yesterday showed. The report compares the price of products and services including food, clothing, transport, private schools and domestic help in 140 cities with New York City as a base.

Singapore, smaller in size than New York City, has seen home prices surge to records in recent years amid rising wealth and an influx of foreigners. A vehicle-permit system makes cars more expensive than in other countries, while the expansion of the island's private banking industry and the presence of regional hubs for global companies have drawn top talent, boosting salaries.

"The situation of an unchanged top five is very rare for the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey and disguises some significant global drivers that are impacting the cost of living everywhere." Jon Copestake, chief retail and consumer goods analyst at EIU, said in a statement. Beyond the appearance of stability, "things are changing quickly, especially with the fall in oil prices," he said.

Singapore's transport costs were almost three times higher than New York's and it's the most expensive place to buy clothes globally, along with Seoul, the EIU report said. Car buyers must pay for excise and registration duties that more than double the vehicle's market value. They must also bid for a limited number of permits that are auctioned by the government.

Hong Kong and Seoul are the other Asian cities that make up the top 10, even as deflation and a devaluation of the yen have dragged Tokyo and Osaka lower, according to the report.

Bloomberg - 9 March 2015
Updated 31 Aug 2015