Three cities rated the world's costliest for expats

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Cost of Living survey that shows top ten most expensive cities is largely split between Asia and Europe, with Singapore tied top.

Singapore skyline
For the first time, Paris and Hong Kong have joined Singapore at the top of a cost-of-living index of the world's most expensive cities to live in.

Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore most expansive cities

The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) bi-annual survey, which compares prices across 160 products and services in 133 cities, is designed to help companies calculate cost-of-living compensation for expatriates and business travellers.It is the first time in 30 years that three cities have shared the No 1 spot, which Singapore had occupied alone for the past six years.Roxana Slavcheva, the report's author, commented, "Converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities is a testament to globalisation and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns."Even in locations where shopping for groceries may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive up the overall cost of living."

From UK Manchester and London climb rankings

Asia and Europe dominated the top of the rankings, with only two US cities - New York and Los Angeles - featuring in the top ten, mainly as a result of the strengthening dollar over the past year.At the bottom of the list was Caracas, where inflation reached nearly a million per cent last year. Damascus, Karachi, Buenos Aires and New Delhi also featured among the cheapest cities."Political instability is becoming an increasingly prominent factor in lowering the relative cost of living. This means that there is a considerable element of risk in some of the world's cheapest cities," the report said. "Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable."In the UK, both London and Manchester climbed up the cost of living rankings after a recovery in the value of sterling. London shared 22nd place with Melbourne and Milan, while Manchester was in joint 51st place with Adelaide, Lyon and Boston.

Top European cities costlier than New York 

The EIU said London remained 14 per cent cheaper than New York, which is used as the base city in the calculations. On the other hand, the European cities of Geneva and Zurich - along with Paris - were all found to be costlier places to live than the Big Apple. Copenhagen was adjudged to be equally expensive as New York."European cities tend to have the highest costs in the household, personal care, recreation and entertainment categories - with Paris being a good representative in these categories - perhaps reflecting a greater premium on discretionary spending," said Ms Slavcheva.Currency volatility played a part in changing the rankings of many cities, making both Istanbul (which fell 48 places to 120th on the list amid "uncontrollably high" inflation) and Moscow, which has been affected by Western sanctions, more affordable.

Voltile inflation rates impact Istanbul and Caracas

Tel Aviv was the only Middle Eastern ranked in the top 10. The EIU said the cost of living in Chinese cities remained relatively stable, while some SE Asian destinations - rated among the world's costliest places for food shopping - were moving up the rankings.However, other Asian cities were still rated among the cheapest. "Within Asia, the best value for money has traditionally been offered by South Asian cities, particularly those in India and Pakistan," the EIU said. "To an extent this remains true, and Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi and Karachi feature among the 10 cheapest locations surveyed."On the US, the EIU added, "Strong economic growth in the United States in 2018 led to a sharp appreciation of the dollar and a rise up the rankings for 14 of the 16 American cities for which prices are collected."The highest climbers were San Francisco (up 12 places to 25th) and Houston (up to 30th from 41st); New York itself moved up six spots to seventh and Los Angeles rose by four places to tenth. These movements represent a sharp increase in the relative cost of living compared with five years ago, when New York and Los Angeles tied in 39th position."The EIU's most expensive cities:
1. Singapore
1. Paris
1. Hong Kong
4. Zurich
5. Geneva
5. Osaka
7. Seoul
7. Copenhagen
7. New York
10. Tel Aviv
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