Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris jointly rank world's most expensive city

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Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris have jointly become the world's most expensive city to visit and live in, a latest survey from British think tank Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed on Tuesday.

The EIU has carried out the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey for more than 30 years based on prices for more than 150 items in 133 cities globally, ranging from food, toiletries and clothing, to domestic help, transport and utility bills.

For the first time, the survey offered the title of the world's most expensive city to three cities after Singapore alone spent five years at the top. Other top 10 cities include Zurich, Geneva, Osaka, Seoul, Copenhagen, New York, Tel Aviv and Los Angeles.

With New York set as a base city, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris are 7 percent more expensive than the U.S. city and Paris is found with only alcohol, transport and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities.

"We note converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney. It is a testament to globalization and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns. Even in locations where topping a grocery basket may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive the overall cost of living upwards," said Roxana Slavcheva, the editor of the survey.

Looking at the most expensive cities by category, Asian cities tend to be the priciest locations for general grocery shopping while European cities tend to have the highest costs in the household, personal care, recreation and entertainment categories, with Zurich and Geneva the most expensive in these categories, the findings showed.

Rankings for cities in different regions have moved in varied directions compared with a year ago, the research found.

Thanks to a sharp appreciation of the U.S. dollar, all but two U.S. cities rise up the ranking in 2018, with San Francisco, Houston, Seattle among the highest climbers.

Costs of living in Chinese cities remain relatively stable, with ranking of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian and Beijing little changed.

A sharp climb is seen in the ranking of Southeast Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Phnom Penh and Hanoi, which can be attributed to robust economic growth last year.

However, many cities tumble down the ranking due to economic turmoil, currency weakness or falling local prices, as manifested in places like Argentina and Venezuela.

The survey is designed to calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travelers. 

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