Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Worldwide cost of living index 2013 - Singapore at 6th place

Source: EIU

Ok. I do agree Singapore is an expensive place to stay. But this report from EIU, simply filled with many flaws and the views are totally from a 'westerner'. There are plenty of reasons to say that Singapore won't end up in top 10 if it is normalized with local or asian flavour.

At the same time, I don't agree at all that South Asia is the cheapest place. As mentioned by the EIU themselves in the report,

Although India is something of a tiger economy tipped for future growth, much of this is driven by 
its large population and the untapped potential within the economy. Income inequality means that 
household spending levels are low on a per capita basis, which has kept prices down, especially by Western 

The Worldwide Cost of Living is a bi-annual (twice yearly) Economist Intelligence Unit survey that 
compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, 
clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private 
schools, domestic help and recreational costs.

See, this is where the problem is. So don't pack your bags to India, as many of the returning Indians end up getting a huge shock. At times, they may find cities in India are more expensive than living in US or AU.

Ok. Let's look at the details for a couple of items.

  • Bread - EIU shows that Bread costs USD 3.25.
I choose NTUC prices as this is the largest super market where majority of people choose to do their shopping. So based on NTUC Online price it varies between SGD 1.91 to SGD 2.30 / KG.

From Coldstorage it's between SGD 3.83 (Gardenia White) - SGD 8.40 (Fruit & Nut loaf). So in USD terms the prices are no where near US 3.25 unless you take one that costs $ 10+.

  • Cigarettes & Table wine. 
I don't think this is a good way to compare. I completely avoid this based on our life style and this is not even something done by everyone.

The problem is when you try to look at a specific view, things look differently. If I try to buy a napa valley wine in Singapore, it'd be pretty expensive but the question is how many people drink in this hot sultry whether as a necessity item?

As many of our leaders say, the devil is in the details. Unless people see the full picture and get in to the details, there is no way the surveys can give a clear picture.

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