Hong Kong in world’s top 10 most expensive cities to live for first time in over a decade

Milk and other basic groceries cost 31pc more than in New York, which researchers say is partly down to the high rents paid by retailers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 March, 2015, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2015, 12:35pm

The high cost of basic food items like bread and milk, coupled with a stronger US dollar, has pushed Hong Kong into the top 10 most expensive places to live in the world for the first time since 2003, according to a new survey.

But the city’s cheap public transport system and bargain buys for clothes meant it stayed out of the top six most costly cities to live, which remained unchanged from the previous year.

Singapore topped the list as the priciest city to live in, according to a twice-yearly worldwide cost of living survey carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

In second place was Paris, followed by Oslo, Zurich, Sydney and Melbourne. Geneva fell one spot to seventh while Copenhagen moved up two spots to eighth.

Hong Kong took ninth with Seoul rounding out the top 10. New York, which is used as the base city to compare all other locations, was ranked 22nd.

It is the first time Hong Kong has been listed in the top 10 though the city consistently makes the top 20 most expensive cities to live.

“Hong Kong has long been perceived as an expensive destination,” said Jon Copestake, chief retail and consumer goods analyst and editor of the report.

“But, in fact, it has seen fluctuations over the years thanks to the relative strength or weakness of the US dollar. In 2007, it lay in 36th place and was cheaper than Istanbul, although it has tended to remain among the 20 most expensive cities.”

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Hong Kong’s currency is pegged to the US dollar, so the resurgent greenback has seen the relative cost of living in the city increase with high rents pushing up retail prices, though this is offset in other areas such as domestic help.

A weaker yen also pushed Tokyo to 11th spot, which was traditionally one of the top 10 most expensive cities.

Basic groceries in Hong Kong were 31 per cent more expensive than in New York, compared to just 11 per cent more for Singapore.

For example, the report found that a litre of milk in Hong Kong cost an average of US$4.24, compared to US$2.70 in Singapore, while a one-kilo loaf of bread in Hong Kong cost an average of US$4.31, compared to US$3.54 in Singapore.

Other items were cheaper in Hong Kong, such as a kilo of long grain rice at an average of US$1.93 compared to US$2.85 in Singapore, while a 750ml bottle of table wine costs US$15.78 on average in Hong Kong and US$25.24 in Singapore.

The survey compares the prices of some 160 products and services across 140 cities. The rankings do not include housing costs.

Mainland cities had mixed results, with Shanghai dropping three spots to 24th most expensive. Shenzhen was ranked 28th most expensive, moving up 11 spots, while Beijing was ranked 46th, up one spot.

Karachi in Pakistan was the cheapest city to live in worldwide, followed by Bangalore, Caracas, Mumbai and Chennai.


Top 10 most expensive cities in the world

1. Singapore

2. Paris

3. Oslo

4. Zurich

5. Sydney

6. Melbourne

7. Geneva

8. Copenhagen

9. Hong Kong

10. Seoul


Top 10 cheapest cities in the world

1. Karachi

2. Bangalore

3. Caracas

4. Mumbai

5. Chennai

6. New Delhi

7. Tehran

8. Damascus

9. Kathmandu

10. Algiers