Singapore no longer world’s most expensive city, as prices fall amid Covid-19 pandemic

Merlion - Singapore Lion Statue (Source: travelpluto.com). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, Nov 19, 2020, Today. Singapore is no longer the world’s most expensive city for expatriates to live in, but it is still in fourth place, according to a survey done by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Malay Mail reported.

This is the first time in seven years that Singapore did not clinch the top spot in the EIU’s 2020 Worldwide Cost of Living survey.

The latest rankings, published today, showed that Singapore and the Japanese city of Osaka, which shared joint-first positions with Hong Kong in March this year, were overtaken by France’s capital Paris and Switzerland’s largest city Zurich.

Osaka is now in fifth place, tying with Tel Aviv, the economic centre of Israel. The survey compares the price of a basket of 138 items in about 130 cities around the world and is conducted twice yearly.

Why it matters

This survey compares the cost of living across 133 cities around the world by looking at 10 categories of consumer goods.

It looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the prices of different goods, and how global consumer goods companies can adapt to the situation.

Why Singapore slipped from its rankings:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic led to an exodus of foreign workers
  • Overall population shrank for the first time since 2003
  • Demand fell and deflation set in

Why Paris and Zurich overtook Singapore and Osaka:

  • Rise of the Euro and and the Swiss Franc against the US dollar
  • Comparative decline in cost of living in Singapore and Osaka

Other reasons for the movements in rankings:

  • Currency fluctuations against the US dollar as cities are compared against New York City
  • Supply chain problems meant that shortages of some goods like toilet rolls and pasta fuelled price increases in some cities, such as?? (it didnt mention in the report)
  • Government policies, such as the imposition of price controls in some countries
  • Fall in incomes across the globe, leading to a drop in consumer spendingLifestyle changes induced by the pandemic, leading people to stay at home more

How consumer goods have been affected:

  • Average prices for food and groceries remained flat
  • Alcohol prices went up, with prices of local beers holding up better than those of top international brands
  • Tobacco prices had the highest annual increase
  • Consumer electronics also had strong price increases
  • Prices of clothing fell, the only decline out of the 10 categories covered in this report

Top 10 most expensive cities

1 Zurich (Switzerland)

1 Paris (France)

1 Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China)

4 Singapore

5 Osaka (Japan)

5 Tel Aviv (Israel)

7 Geneva (Switzerland)

7 New York (United States)

9 Copenhagen (Denmark)

9 Los Angeles (United States)

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