Hong Kong has lost its number one spot in the list of most expensive cities in Asia, with Shanghai reclaiming its title this year. The Wealth Report Asia 2018, released by Swiss private banking group Julius Baer, is out and India’s financial capital Mumbai has retained its spot, as have five other Asian cities.
The eighth annual Wealth Report Asia released on December 4 sees minor changes in the rankings of top five cities since 2017. While Shanghai is back on the top spot, Hong Kong has gone down to third, with Singapore emerging as the second most expensive city in Asia. Tokyo and Taipei have exchanged their rankings for the fourth and fifth positions. Tokyo, which was on the fifth position last year, has jumped one place pushing Taipei down.
As part of the report, the Julius Baer Lifestyle Index 2018 compares 22 goods and services across 11 Asian cities — Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Bangkok, Mumbai, Manila, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
The list of 22 goods and services are: Business Class flight, residential property, wedding banquet, hotel suite, lasik treatment, hospital room, golf club membership, legal services, watch, ladies handbag, jewellery, wine, men’s suit, botox, piano, car, cigar, ladies’ shoes, skin cream, degustation dinner, boarding school fees and university expenses.
Let’s take a look at the top 11 most expensive cities in Asia in 2018.
11. Kuala Lumpur
The Malaysia capital has retained its claim as the least expensive city in Asia in price-weighted terms. It is the cheapest among the 11 cities to buy six of the 22 items on the index. These are property, hotel suite, wine, jewellery, piano and cigar.
Jakarta too retains its 2017 slot as the second cheapest among the 11 Asian cities. Here, one can find cheapest hospital suite and golf club memberships. After Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta offers most competitive prices for hosting a wedding banquet, purchasing a men’s suit, buying skin cream, and enjoying a degustation dinner. Here, the report says, the lifestyle index declined by 1.6% in USD terms “reflecting the declines in prices of 11 out of 22 index items”.
Manila remains the third cheapest city on the focus list. “Despite significant price appreciation across the board in local currency terms, the continuous devaluation of the peso negated much of this increase,” says the report. Engaging a lawyer and enjoying a gastronomic degustation dinner are the cheapest, and residential property and botox are the second cheapest, in this city. However, Manila offers the most expensive golf club memberships in Asia.
Mumbai remains one of the most competitive cities in Asia, on a price-weighted basis. The financial capital of one of the fastest growing economies in the region gained 5.1% in local currency terms for the lifestyle index, though prices in the city Mumbai remained generally flat during the year in USD terms owing to a weak rupee. There was significant price gains for hospital rooms (12.7%) and cigars (12.7%). On the other side, the city ranks last on the list of 11 when it comes to buying men’s suits and ladies handbags. The prices of wonen’s shoes (10th position), watches (9th) and jewellery (9th) are also competitive. Undergoing botox (11th) and lasik (10th) procedures can come for a relative bargain, as do engaging a lawyer and smoking a cigar, both coming in at 10th place.
Prices in Bangkok were flat y/y in local currency terms (+0.9%) on a weighted-average basis. The price of a degustation dinner went up by almost 50% as Bangkok got included in the Michelin Guide. Prices of cigars, men’s suits and luxury residences rose 32.3%, 11.5%, and 10.8%, respectively. In contrast, prices of botox, a luxury hotel stay, ladies shoes, and legal consultation fees fell by 27.7%, 25.9%, 15.3%, and 14.6%, respectively.
Lasik surgery, men’s suit, and cigar are the most expensive in Bangkok, but an opulent wedding comes cheapest. A golf club membership, business class flight, and night stay in a luxury hotel are also second cheapest.
Seoul maintains its position as the 6th most expensive city in the list of 11. It is still the most expensive city to purchase women’s shoes, and is the second most expensive for watches and handbags. However, lasik surgery or booking business class flights are cheapest in the region, while wine and pianos are the third cheapest among the cities surveyed.
Taipei’s ranking has fallen one spot to settle as the 5th most expensive city this year. Here, ladies may purchase handbags at the second cheapest rate in the region, and patients may undergo competitively priced lasik (3rd cheapest) and recuperate in a hospital suite (2nd cheapest).
The basket of goods and services rose by 2.4% year on year in USD terms (2.8% in local currency terms). The large gains in cigar (+20.6%) outweighed the declines in hospital rooms (-18.2%) and business class flights (-13.8%).
Tokyo has reclaimed its position as the 4th most expensive city in Asia this year, replacing Taipei. The basket of 22 goods and services gained 1.4% in JPY terms (+2.0% in USD terms) here. Most of the gains were seen in hotel suites (+27.4%) due to an increasing tourist demand. The golf club membership auction market also sent prices up 46.7%. Wine prices however fell 18.9%, followed by watches (-7.3%).
World famous for Japanese service excellence, Tokyo is the most expensive when it comes to hosting a wedding banquet and staying a night at a hotel. Business class flights out of Tokyo and purchasing residential property are
the second most expensive. It is however a relatively price competitive city for pianos (10th), cars (10th), cigars (11th), and watches (11th).
3. Hong Kong
Hong Kong went down to third position from first with prices for most items remaining stable year-on-year barring hotel suites (+10.6%), jewellery
(+9.5%), and ladies handbags (+6.6%). The basket of goods and services rose by 2.2%, slightly lower than the average price gain of +2.9% cross the cities.
Hong Kong however remains the most expensive city to purchase a residential property and take a business class flight. Items such as skin cream (11th), jewellery (10th), wine (10th), ladies shoes (8th), watch (8th) and men’s suits (8th) are however relatively competitive.
Singapore is now the second most expensive city in Asia on a price-weighted basis. It has risen from 3rd to 2nd position, on the back of a stronger Singapore dollar, and improvement in item price rankings across the board.
As always, it is the most expensive city to own a car, thanks to heavy levies and duties on automobile purchases. The basket of goods and services in Singapore rose by 5.4% year on year in USD terms, as the city-state saw strong price increases in golf club memberships (+26.1%) and
hotel suites (+11.8%).
Singapore is the third most expensive city to secure a luxury property, while dining at a two Michelin-starred restaurant is costliest in the region. In fact, Singapore displaced Hong Kong as the most expensive city in Asia to enjoy a fine dining meal (USD 283).
Shanghai has overtaken Hong Kong for the pole position this year on a price-weighted basis. It is now the most expensive city to buy six of the 22 items. These six items are hospital room, watch, handbag, wine, jewellery and skin cream. It is now costlier to buy property (4th most expensive), watches (1st), handbags (1st) and have a fine dining experience (3rd position to 2nd). When it comes to paying legal fees, Shanghai had jumped wight positions — 10th to 2nd. The overall basket of goods and services rose by 4.8% in USD terms.
The city saw strong growth in residential property (+19.0% in USD terms), wine (+23.3%), and luxury watch prices (+13.2%) — exceeding the 2.9% gain in the overall index. Prices of business class flights and botox however experienced steep declines, 20.2% and 21.6% respectively in USD terms, thanks to heightened competition.