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Luxury Spend It

Hong Kong tops list of Asia’s most expensive cities for a luxury lifestyle

The city’s sky-high property prices help it leapfrog Shanghai and Singapore, although it remains good value for wine, jewellery and ladies’ shoes, according to investment bank Julius Baer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 11:17pm

Hong Kong is the most expensive city in Asia for luxury living, jumping two spots to beat Shanghai and Singapore largely because of high property costs, according to the latest annual Julius Baer “Wealth Report”.

The report, which tracks the luxury spending trends of Asia’s high-net-worth individuals, showed that while the overall basket of goods and services in Hong Kong rose by only 1 per cent, the city’s ranking was pushed up by soaring residential property prices.

“Hong Kong is the most expensive place to buy a property in Asia,” said Pearlyn Wong, executive director of markets and advisory solutions at the Swiss private bank. “More than twice, or even three times as expensive as the region on average.”

At US$51,594 per square metre, Hong Kong prime real estate is 2.69 times more expensive than the Asian average, the report noted.

“We’ve never seen such wide differences between Hong Kong and other Asian markets,” said Bhaskar Laxminarayan, chief investment officer and head of investment management for Julius Baer in Asia.

The report compares the costs of 21 goods and services, including property, across 11 Asian cities.

Hong Kong also ranked among the most expensive in Asia to take a business class flight, have a fine dining experience or receive Botox injections, although the city fared well when it came to buying jewellery, coming in 11th, and ranked 10th for wine and ladies’ shoes.

Meanwhile, in mainland China, Shanghai remained the most expensive city in terms of luxury items, including wine, jewellery, Lasik eye surgery and cigars, on an equal weighted basis, thanks to a weaker Chinese yuan.

“There are no real bargains in Shanghai,” Wong said. “Only two items were cheaper in Shanghai than elsewhere – hotel rooms and legal fees.”

Wong said the report pointed to the return of consumer confidence in China – the largest consumer of luxury goods in the world – driven, in part, by a “reshoring trend” of Chinese consumers making more of their luxury purchases locally than overseas.

“We don’t want you to go to Europe to buy something cheaper, we want you to buy onshore,” Wong said was the message from global luxury brands, noting that they had “harmonised” their global prices to enable this.

For those seeking value for money, the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur was the most competitive location overall, while the best-priced fine dining experience could be found in Mumbai – at US$113, less than half the cost in Hong Kong, the report said.

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