Singapore overtakes Hong Kong as Asia’s second most expensive playground for the rich, after Shanghai

But high-end housing costs in Hong Kong still around five times the average for the region

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 11:44pm

Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong as Asia’s second-most expensive playground for the rich, after the latter took a hit from shrinking spending by holidaymakers.

But high-end housing costs in Hong Kong are still around five times the average for the region, despite wine and jewellery becoming cheaper, according to Julius Baer, the third largest bank in Switzerland after UBS and Credit Suisse.

According to its fifth annual Wealth Report, published on Tuesday, for the second year running Shanghai snatched regional top spot in the rankings of the priciest cities for high net worth individuals.

Costs of hospital stays, Botox treatments, watches and cigars cost more in the Chinese city than anywhere else. Also assessed are the cost of business class flights, golf memberships, cars, ladies’ handbags and jewellery among 20 goods and services compared across Asia’s 11 mega cities, including Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.

This year, Tokyo surpassed Taipei and Seoul to become the fourth most expensive city for Asia’s affluent.

Factors, such as exchange rates, taxes and duties can mean a luxury item costs significantly more on the mainland
Julius Baer’s fifth annual Wealth Report

Singapore gained ground on Hong Kong in the league table, as luxury sedans, lawyers and jewellery were “considerably more expensive” in the Lion City, the report found, driven partly by heavy local taxes and a controlled vehicle supply.

The study showed Hong Kong golf club membership fees rose a staggering 36.5 per cent from a year earlier, while residential property – defined in the survey as a luxury home in a prime location at around 4,000 sq ft in area – cost an average US$41.24 million, although that was down 8.7 per cent from a year earlier.

It’s followed by Shanghai, where a premium residential property can cost about US$16.58 million.

“Factors, such as exchange rates, taxes and duties can mean a luxury item costs significantly more on the mainland,” said the Wealth Report.

Regardless of stalled economic growth, the rich of Shanghai – China’s biggest city and home to more multinationals than anywhere in the country – have to pay up to US$1,038 for a hospital stay, more than double the average of the 11 cities surveyed.

Legal fees and golf club membership were the only two luxury items which were cheaper in Shanghai.

“The current huge gap between Hong Kong’s luxury housing prices and Shanghai may still take a few years to close and will still remain among the top three costliest cities in Asia for the time being,” said Pearlyn Wong, executive director, markets and advisory solutions Asia with Julius Baer.

With premium travel poised to grow substantially across Asia in coming years, the Swiss private bank said it expected to see continued price rises in prices for travel, accommodation and healthcare.

An average hotel suite in Tokyo currently costs the most across the 11 Asian cities polled, setting you back up to US$923 per night (a rise of 34 per cent on last year) while Hong Kong’s average is US$838.

Overall the report found the pool of investable assets available to Asia’s super wealthy could reach up to US$14.5 trillion by 2020, with more than US$8 trillion generated in China alone.

Of the 11 cities measured, Mumbai was the least expensive for luxury spending despite India’s booming fortune of the high net worth individuals.