CityNews – The Economist has released their comprehensive Worldwide Cost of Living Index 2014 Report (which, unfortunately, is only accessible after registration), which is a survey based on more than 400 different price indicators across 131 cities globally.
The 700 square kilometre island of Singapore has topped the index as the priciest place to live in 2014, and also has the highest percentage of millionaires worldwide (that’s one out of six households having 1 million US Dollars or more in disposable wealth). The scarcity of land and natural resources mean that the city relies heavily on imported goods, including electricity and oil. The country is very important globally in several economic areas, with it being the fourth leading financial centre in the world. It’s also the fourth largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo.
Paris was ranked second on the list, followed by Oslo, Zurich, Sydney, Caracas, Geneva, Melbourne, Tokyo and Denmark. Last year, Tokyo stood at the top of the list, but has dropped due to a weakening Yen and changing policies. The Economist explained that Caracas (in Venezuela) appeared on the list mainly due to the imposition of an artificially high exchange rate.
Although the survey doesn’t consider the price of real estate or income taxes, it does factor in consumption taxes such as sales tax, alcohol and tobacco tax. Many online commenters have questioned the validity and utility of the index, while The Economist says the index is intended for use by human resource managers and executives who move from one city to another.
Cities in the Middle East and Asian subcontinent dominate the cheapest cities list, with the most affordable city being Mumbai in India, followed by Karachi, New Delhi, Damascus, Kathmandu, Algiers, Bucharest, Panama City, Jeddah, and Riyadh.
Bangkok ranks 61 on the index, with a 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre costing around 60,000 baht a month, compared to a 3-bedroom apartment in Singapore at 166,500 baht per month. To buy an apartment in Bangkok, one would pay on average 110,800 baht per square metre, while to buy the same in Singapore one would pay around 525,000 baht per square metre. However, the price per square metre of an apartment in Mumbai is still more expensive than Bangkok, at 135,000 baht.