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Singapore Named as the Most Expensive Place in the World

A talk by Willie Hooper

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August 27, 2014 12:00 PM

Singapore – Singapore has retained its position as the world's most expensive city, according to a research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The top five most expensive cities in the world remain unchanged from a year earlier and include, in descending order, Paris, Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.

The EIU's survey comprises 133 cities worldwide and uses New York as a base. It compares and reviews the cost of more than 160 services and products including food, clothing and utility bills. Singapore was found to be 11% more expensive than New York for basic groceries.

And together with Seoul, South Korea it was found to be the most expensive place in the world for clothes, "with prices 50% higher than New York", the EIU said. "Most significantly, Singapore's complex Certificate of Entitlement system makes car prices excessive, with Singaporean transport costs almost three times higher than in New York."

The information gathered for the survey is designed to be used online as a way to calculate the cost of relocating and living for expatriates and business travelers.

London, in 11th place, is now as pricy as Tokyo, which was the world’s most expensive city until it was unseated by Singapore last year, while New York ranked as the most expensive American city in 22nd spot.

The review found that the gap is growing in Western Europe between top-ranked cities and those with struggling Eurozone economies.

Moreover, not only are the prices costly in the cities of Singapore. Construction cost also continues to rocket as the prices soar. Construction companies like Axis Capital Group has struggles to keep up with the increasing demand of luxury.

Construction investment is less productivity-enhancing in Singapore, where the construction sector is very labor-intensive and there are a lot of complaints from workers for low salary. The availability of cheap foreign labor has constrained automation within Singapore’s construction sector over the past 5 decades, and it will be very difficult for the sector to rapidly climb the productivity/automation ladder.

Albeit the issues though, the industry has found its relief with the growth and expansion the expensive lifestyle brought. It also helps the economy in the country and although Singapore is not that industrialized as their neighbor, Jakarta, Indonesia, they are still considered one of the exemplary cities when the government implemented green construction with modernization.

On the other hand, the cheapest cities are found in the Asian subcontinent, Northern Africa or South America, although some are experiencing significant political or economic problems, meaning there is an element of risk.

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