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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Singapore tops city cost of living poll for fifth straight year

Gulf states generally showed a decline in the Economist Intelligence Unit survey, as nations have dollar-pegged currencies

Singapore is the world's most expensive place to live for the fifth year in a row according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. AFP/Roslan RAHMAN
Singapore is the world's most expensive place to live for the fifth year in a row according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. AFP/Roslan RAHMAN

Singapore remains the most expensive city for the fifth year running, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual cost of living poll.

The survey, which ranks the cost of 150 items across 133 global cities, saw European cities dominate the top ten with five entries – Paris (2nd=), Zurich (2nd=), Oslo (5th) Geneva (6th=) and Copenhagen (8th). The remaining spots went to Hong Kong (4th), Seoul (6th=), Tel Aviv (9th) and Sydney (10th).

"Western European cities dominate the top of the ranking once more. This is something we have not seen in over a decade. The competition between Asian hubs like Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul on the one hand and European destinations such as Paris, Zurich and Oslo on the other will be one to watch over the next survey cycle as well" comments Roxana Slavcheva, the editor of the survey.

According to the survey, the Gulf states have seen a decline on the whole, except for Abu Dhabi where it has remained stable.

“There’s a common theme emerging here,” said Ms Slavcheva. “All of these eight [Gulf] cities which have moved down the ranking in the past 12 months peg their currencies to the dollar. Thus, a weakening of the US dollar in 2017, has not only affected the position of US cities but other cities globally.

“In Saudi Arabia for example, the drop in the ranking for Riyadh (52nd), Al Khobar and Jeddah (joint 57th) also reflects persisting deflation as the economy struggled to cope with slowing growth, low oil prices, and increased pressure due to removal of subsidies and excise duties,” she continued

“The UAE will be the one to watch next year, however, after the introduction of VAT this year. We expect Dubai and Abu Dhabi to rise in cost of living terms as a result over the next survey cycle.”

Brexit concerns have brought down the value of the British pound, meaning that London and Manchester both fell sharply: London's rank (30th) is its lowest in two decades, while Manchester ended up in 56th spot.

The two cheapest cities in the world, Damscus and Caracas, have suffered from civil war and social unrest respectively.