Although London is considered to be an expensive city to stay, it does not feature in the list of the 10 costliest cities in the world according to the latest data from a comprehensive study by the Economist’s latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. Instead, Singapore has been ranked on top of all the costliest cities of the world by the bi-annual survey that analysed 131 cities by assessing their costs and comparing more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. The various items assessed included rents, transport, food, drink, utility bills, clothing and recreational costs. A big impact on the results can be due to currency fluctuations and rising prices. Singapore climbed the ladder to top the rankings mainly because of a 40 percent rise in the Singapore dollar.
The sustained increase in the cost of living in Australian cities was mainly due to the long-term appreciation of the Australian dollar and although there has been a slow decline in the value of the Australian dollar in the past year, Sydney maintained its high ranking at the fifth position and Melbourne was at the sixth spot mainly due to ongoing price hikes. Quite unexpectedly New York was at a relatively modest 26th position. Closely following Singapore, the 2nd and 3rd positions were taken up by Paris and Oslo respectively whereas Zurich was at the 4th slot. Geneva, Caracas and Tokyo have been ranked jointly with Melbourne in the 6th slot and Copenhagen is at the bottom of the ten most expensive cities of the world at number 10.
The methodology of how the Economist has come to its conclusions raises a lot of doubts especially in the case of Caracas as the Venezuelan capital has been ranked in league with Melbourne, Geneva and Tokyo at the sixth position. This conclusion is based entirely on the official exchange rate of the Venezuelan government’s exchange rate for its currency, the Bolivar. It has been pointed out that although the official exchange rate of the Bolivar is 6.29 to the dollar, its black market rates are less than one-tenth of that amount. As such, for all practical purposes, Caracas could easily be classified as the world’s cheapest city instead of its current deceptive position as the joint sixth most expensive city of the world.