Asia’s most expensive cities, ranked

The japanese concept of kakeibo describes the art of saving money. In Asia there are many good places to practise it. Nine of the world’s 20 cheapest cities are there, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey, a twice-yearly tally by EIU, our sister company. But Asia is also home to some of the world’s most exorbitant metropolises. For the ninth time in 11 years, Singapore tops the list as the most costly place to live—although it shares that dubious honour with Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city. Hong Kong is Asia’s second-most expensive city in which to live, and the fifth worldwide. See how other cities in the region compare in our map below.

Despite some high rankings, most Asian cities became comparatively less expensive this year: 46 out of 58 slid down the rankings. Lower inflation resulted in less dramatic action from central banks, and therefore a lower level of currency appreciation against the dollar across much of the region. China’s cities fell furthest—an average of 19 places—owing to a surprisingly limp economic recovery after the end of zero-covid curbs at the end of 2022.

The seven cities covered by EIU in Australia and New Zealand also fell, by an average of 11 places. Both currencies depreciated against the dollar, outweighing the impact of their faster inflation. Tokyo and Osaka, two Japanese cities that were among the 20 most expensive worldwide in 2021, continued to slide down the index, to 60th and 70th respectively. The Japanese government has the opposite problem to most of its peers, in that it wants more inflation, not less.

Only a few places in Asia became comparatively more expensive this year. Two South Korean cities, Seoul and Busan, moved up the rankings, as prices there rose faster than in New York and the won appreciated against the dollar (the index is benchmarked against the Big Apple). Two other cities saw an even greater rise: Nouméa, in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, and Bangkok. Thailand’s capital bounced back from a big fall last year, thanks mainly to a stronger currency. Inhabitants there may be tempted to practise a different Japanese concept: ganbaru, which roughly translates as slogging on through tough times.

Excerpts : the economist

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