DestinationsThe Economist survey of expensive cities reveals Singapore is back on top, but there’s relief for those living in Japan’s big two cities.

Feeling the pinch? Living costs are rising, but not everywhere

Singapore shares the top position with New York.
Singapore shares the top position with New York. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Stockbym

Everybody knows. Prices are rising. As anyone will guess when shopping at their local supermarket, the cost of living is rising at its fastest rate for at least 20 years. Ouch.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has brought factors such as cost of groceries, electricity, housing and more together in compiling its 2022 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, which compares the prices of over 200 products and services in more than 170 cities.

Even Russia hasn’t been spared the price hikes. The two biggest climbers, in the EUI survey are St Petersburg, which has risen 70 places to 73rd since 2021 and Moscow which shot up 88 places to 37th.

Western sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine have driven up local prices and, according to the survey, inflation in Moscow is now 17.1% (year on year) in local-currency terms, while in St Petersburg it has reached 19.4%.

Singapore, which led the survey every year from 2014 to 2019, is again the world’s most expensive city, sharing the No. 1 position with New York, the survey’s benchmark city. (Paris took top spot in 2020 and Tel Aviv in 2021.)

Tel Aviv was the third most expensive city in 2022, ahead of Los Angeles and Hong King in equal fourth place.

Overall, Asian cities became comparatively less tough on the wallet in 2022. Tokyo and Osaka were among the 20 most expensive worldwide in 2021, but they slid down the rankings in 2022, to 37th and 43rd respectively (and 11th and 15th in Asia). Their decline was the sharpest among all 57 Asian cities surveyed by EUI.

And if you’re looking to live in or visit cities where you will get most bang for your buck, five of the 12 least expensive cities in the world are in South Asia, led by Karachi where costs are about a third of those in Singapore.

Be warned, though, Karachi is also Asia’s hardest place to live, according to a separate EUI index.

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