So, we … won? Hong Kong most expensive city in world in new ranking

Your income in Hong Kong, according to a new cost of living survey. Photo via WikiCommons/Vmenkov

Today, in news that’s likely to shock absolutely no one, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) named Hong Kong — along with Singapore and Paris — the most expensive city in the world.

The finding, if you can call it that, was included in this year’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, a set of rankings based on the actual prices of a set of essential goods and services like haircuts and beer — along with 158 others, including food, household supplies, rent, and recreation — across 133 cities.

Hong Kong actually climbed three spots from last year (wonderful), coming in just above Zurich and Geneva. Osaka and Seoul have the dubious distinction of being the other two Asian cities in the top 10.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen, New York, Tel Aviv, and Los Angeles round out the top 10 (or 11, technically, thanks to some ties).

“When looking at the most expensive cities by category, Asian cities tend to be the priciest locations for general grocery shopping,” the survey notes. “European cities tend to have the highest costs in the household, personal care, recreation and entertainment categories—with Zurich and Geneva the most expensive in these categories—perhaps reflecting a greater premium on discretionary spending.”

For those who are curious, or just looking for an escape route, Caracas, Damascus, and Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, were the world’s cheapest cities.

Interestingly enough, the average global cost of living last year actually fell by 4 percent as compared to the study’s baseline city of New York. No such luck for the SAR, however.

In fact, Hong Kong’s rise in this year’s rankings may have something to do with the relative strength of the US dollar, to which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged, and whose strong performance over the last year drove up the cost of living in many US cities.

Count it again. It'll never be enough. Photo via Flickr/Timothy Tsui.
Count it again. It’s not enough. Photo via Flickr/Timothy Tsui.

The EIU’s index is just the latest “most expensive/least affordable” list to prominently feature Hong Kong lately.

In January, the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey ranked Hong Kong the least-affordable housing market in the world. The survey calculated affordability by dividing median home price by median household income to arrive at a “median multiple,” with a multiple of 3.0 or less categorized as “affordable.”

Hong Kong’s median multiple clocked in at 20.9, seven times the “affordable” threshold, and more than 65 percent more expensive than its next nearest competitor, Vancouver, at 12.6. (So, we won?)

It's still not enough. It'll never be enough. Photo via Flickr/デニス モジョ
It’s still not enough. It’ll never be enough. Photo via Flickr/デニス モジョ

Hong Kong will also remain the most expensive place on Earth to rent office space, according to an outlook by the international property advisor Knight Frank released last month.

Oh, and it’s also the most expensive market in the world for expat accommodation as well, more than 25 percent more expensive than the runner up, Tokyo, according to a report by ECA International just last week.

So, kiss your savings plans and dreams of owning a home goodbye, Hongkongers. And if you’ve got a problem with that, we hear Tashkent is lovely this time of year.


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