The Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore retained its title as the world’s most expensive city for the second consecutive year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in a new survey.
In fact, the top five priciest cities ranked in this year’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey remained unchanged from 2014: Paris ranked second followed by Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.
“This façade of relative stability is deceptive, however, and it is extremely rare for an identical top five to be achieved in ranking the global cost of living,” the EIU said.
Melbourne ranked sixth, with Geveva, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Seoul rounding out the top ten. 2015 marks the debut of South Korea’s capital on the list as its cost of living now matches that of Hong Kong.
However, the EIU notes that the Swiss franc’s recent unpegging from the euro means that Zurich and Geneva would actually be the world’s most expensive cities at current exchange rates.
Noticeably, major Japanese cities like Tokyo and Osaka – usually among the world’s most expensive during the past two decades – were missing from the EIU’s list due to weak inflation and the yen’s devaluation.
The bi-annual survey ranks cities based on price comparisons across a basket of goods, including food, drink, clothing, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.
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Singapore remains the costliest metropolises to buy clothes, the report said, with price premiums in Singapore’s principal shopping hub, Orchard Road, over 50 percent higher than New York.
The Southeast Asian city state also boasts transportation costs which are triple those of New York, largely due to its complex fee system to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) – the 10-year license that must be purchased to use a vehicle.
Asian cities also were also the priciest locations for grocery shopping, with Seoul holding the highest price tags for everyday food items. For example, 1 kilogram of dried pasta costs $4 on the website of popular Korean supermarket Homeplus, double the price on American retailer Walmart.
Meanwhile, European cities like Zurich were the most expensive for recreation and entertainment activities, the EIU found, which may indicate a greater premium on discretionary income.
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Indian cities dominated the list of the world’s ten cheapest cities: Karachi ranked first, followed by Bangalore, Caracas, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.
Venezuela’s capital, which was the sixth most expensive in 2014, experienced a dramatic downturn over the past year as severe currency instability, falling oil prices and rampant inflation have pushed the metropolis into an economic crisis.
“In Venezuela the adoption of multiple exchange rates has made pricing Caracas almost impossible,” the EIU said. “This fall [to the bottom five] will be compounded by a further decoupling of the various official rates in operation announced in February.”