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Singapore and Zurich Becomes World’s Most Expensive Cities

In a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Singapore and Zurich have again claimed the title of the world’s most expensive cities to live in for the year 2023. This makes Singapore’s ninth time at the top in the past eleven years, showcasing its consistent high cost of living.

Singapore and Zurich Becomes World's Most Expensive Cities

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Zurich, on the other hand, made a jump from sixth place last year to share the first spot with Singapore, using the strength of the Swiss franc and prices in groceries, household goods, and recreation.

The EIU’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2023 report attributes Singapore’s leading position to several factors. Skyrocketing costs of car ownership, expensive alcohol, and a surge in grocery prices have contributed to Singapore outpacing New York, with which it shared the top spot in the previous year.

The city state’s strict government controls on car numbers have resulted in the world’s highest transport prices. Singapore ranks among the most expensive cities for clothing, groceries, and alcohol.

Zurich’s ascent to the top is credited to a Swiss franc and high prices in groceries, household goods, and recreation.

The Swiss city’s rise highlights the global cost-of-living patterns, influenced by currency strength and economic conditions.

The survey, conducted between August 14 and September 11, compared more than 400 individual prices in 173 cities worldwide.

Global prices saw an average increase of 7.4% year-on-year in local currency terms, a decrease from the previous year’s 8.1%. The impact of supply-side shocks, particularly those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Chinese cities experienced a decline in rankings, reflecting the country’s slow post-pandemic recovery and subdued consumer demand.

Santiago de Queretaro and Aguascalientes in Mexico witnessed upward movement, using peso against the U.S. dollar.

Among U.S. cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the only others to break into the top 10, the diverse cost-of-living landscape within the country.

The study revealed that Asia, on average, saw lower price increases compared to other regions, with only two Asian cities, Singapore and Hong Kong, making it to the top 10.

In Europe, besides Zurich, Geneva, Paris, Copenhagen, and Tel Aviv secured positions in the top 10. The impact of inflation in groceries, clothing, and personal care, along with currency appreciation, contributed to the rise of Western European cities in the rankings.

While Tel Aviv secured a place in the top 10, the survey was conducted before the Israel-Hamas war, suggesting that geopolitical events can influence living costs.

The report also highlighted the impact of currency fluctuations on cities like Tokyo and Osaka, which slipped in the rankings due to a weaker Japanese yen.

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The study categorized goods and services into 10 broad categories, with utility prices showing the slowest rise at 5.7%.

Upasana Dutt, Head of Worldwide Cost of Living at EIU, noted that supply-side shocks leading to price increases have reduced since China lifted its COVID-19 restrictions and the energy price spike following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has eased.

Dutt addressed that the cost-of-living crisis is not yet over, stating that price levels remain higher than historical trends.

The report outlined risks, such as the Israel-Hamas war escalation impacting energy prices and unexpected El Niño conditions driving up food prices.

These are the only other U.S. cities in the top 10, with Los Angeles at sixth place and San Francisco at tenth. Despite an increase in its cost-of-living basket price by 321%, Damascus remains the cheapest city.

These Mexican cities experienced upward movements in the rankings due to the strengthening peso against the U.S. dollar. The weaker Japanese yen saw Tokyo dropping 23 places to 60th, while Osaka fell 27 spots to rank 70th.

World’s most expensive cities in 2023:

  • Singapore
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • New York, USA
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Los Angeles, USA
  • Paris, France
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • San Francisco, USA.

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