Singapore is the most expensive city in the world for the fourth year running, according to the latest findings of The Economist Intelligence Unit's (The EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living Survey.
The survey, which compares the price of over 150 items in 133 cities around the world, found that Singapore was 20% more expensive than New York and 5% pricier than Hong Kong, which lies in second place.
Singapore's unenviable title comes largely because the certification of entitlement system makes running a car there significantly more expensive than anywhere in the world, with clothing prices and utility prices also relatively high. But the Asian hub also offers better value for money in other areas such as grocery shopping, recreation and domestic help.
"Singapore's position is skewed slightly by the complex system for buying and registering cars as well as relatively high incomes, which means that it remains relatively affordable for many residents," comments Jon Copestake, editor of the survey. "Singapore is also reflective of a regional trend, with Asian hubs now making up many of the world's most expensive cities," he added.
In addition to Hong Kong, Singapore is joined in the top ten by the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka in 4th and 5th place respectively, and the South Korean capital Seoul in 6th place. The two Japanese cities in particular have jumped back up the ranking in the last 12 months thanks to a resurgent yen. Only one year ago, Tokyo lay in 11th position with a cost of living on a par with that of Shanghai. Seoul, meanwhile, has seen a steady rise up the rankings over the last decade. Seven years ago it was ranked as low as 50th, but it has moved steadily up as the economy and the Korean won has strengthened and prices have risen in line with incomes.
Conversely, weakening consumer sentiment and falls in the renminbi's value against the US dollar have seen Chinese cities moving in the opposite direction. Beijing fell 16 places to 47th, while the eight Chinese cities surveyed fell by an average of 11 places each.
Shanghai, China's business centre, is now ranked 16th overall, down from 11th last year and on a par with the cost of living in the New Zealand cities of Auckland and Wellington. In fact, Auckland and Wellington were among the fastest risers up the global ranking. Australian cities also became relatively more expensive with Sydney and Melbourne moving up six places each into 14th and 15th place respectively.
Elsewhere in the world the UK cities of London and Manchester fell sharply down the ranking into 24th and 51st place respectively, thanks to the impact of uncertainty around the Brexit referendum on the strength of the pound.
Lagos in Nigeria and Almaty in Kazakhstan also saw significant falls in the relative cost of living to become the two cheapest cities in the world.