Singapore is world's most expensive city for expats

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A new survey by The Economist has found that Singapore is the most expensive city to live in in the world for expatriates. Singapore is a very expensive place to buy clothes, manufactured goods and alcohol. The price of utilities is rising. It also has a strong currency which contributes to the cost of living.

However, Singapore rose to the top of the list, overtaking last year's top city, Tokyo, because of the cost of driving a car. Singapore is a city of 5.3m people which is on an island. Space is at a premium. To prevent congestion, the government requires residents to buy a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) before they buy a car.

Tokyo fell to sixth on the list because of a fall in the value of the Japanese currency; the yen.

Cars three times more in Singapore than in Malaysia

COEs are sold at auction. Demand is high and the cost of a COE can frequently be higher than that of a car. A new Toyota Corolla Altis costs $110,000 in Singapore compared to only $35,000 in Malaysia. For those expats who decide not to buy a car, public transport is clean and cheap.

Singapore also has one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia. The average annual income is US$50,000 a year.

The rest of the global top ten is made up of cities in Europe, Australia and Asia. It will surprise many that London and New York do not make the top ten. London came 15th on the list and New York came 26th.

Top ten

The top ten most expensive cities are
  1. Singapore
  2. Paris
  3. Oslo
  4. Zurich
  5. Sydney
  6. Tokyo
  7. Geneva
  8. Melbourne
  9. Caracas
  10. Copenhagen
The world's cheapest cities in which to live are found overwhelmingly in Asia. The world's cheapest city for expatriates is Mumbai. Mumbai is India's financial capital and also home to the globally famous 'Bollywood'; the Indian film industry.


Mumbai, like many Indian cities, is home to many extremely wealthy people who live extremely luxurious lives but, according to the Economist's Intelligence Unit, the overall cost of living for ex-pats is kept down because of low costs for things like rent, food, drink, clothing, household supplies, schools, domestic help and various other factors.

The ten global cities with the lowest cost of living are;

  1. Mumbai
  2. Karachi
  3. New Delhi
  4. Damascus
  5. Kathmandu
  6. Algiers
  7. Bucharest
  8. Panama City
  9. Jeddah
  10. Riyadh
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