SINGAPORE: That the Little Red Dot ranked first on the Julius Baer Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2024 as the most expensive city for the second time in a row might not come as a big surprise for many.

Perhaps more startling is the leap Hong Kong made from third to second, displacing Shanghai, which slipped two notches to fourth on this year’s list.

The index ranks the 25 most expensive cities in the world from November 2023 to March 2024, based on an analysis of residential property, cars, business-class flights, as well as other luxuries of people with at least US$1 million in investable assets (S$1.35 million).

For those who are interested, London (3rd), Monaco (5th), Zurich (6th), New York (7th), Paris (8th), Sao Paulo (9th) and Milan (10th) round out the top ten.

In 2022, Hong Kong ranked fourth, and last year, third. The question is, as this year’s runner-up, does it mean that it will take first place next year?

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Let’s take a closer look at the two cities. Singapore is the most expensive location in the world for owning a car. It maintains its attractiveness to high and ultra-high-net-worth individuals due to its reputation for political and economic stability.

As for Hong Kong, it ranks second, after Monaco, as the second most expensive city around the globe for property prices and is the place where engaging a lawyer will cost you the most.

In Hong Kong, the price of a hotel suite has gone up by an eye-watering 22.9 per cent, while ladies’ shoes are now more expensive by 12.7 per cent.

The city is the third most expensive for degustation dinners and is also ranked high for car ownership, ladies’ handbags, private school fees, and business class flights.

Singapore, meanwhile, is second in the world in terms of health costs and third in the world when it comes to residential property prices. Ladies handbags, shoes, and men’s suits are among the world’s priciest.

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“As the mainland China and Hong Kong economies have gradually recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for luxury goods and services has increased, pushing prices up,” Kenny Ng Lai-yin, a strategist at Everbright Securities International, is quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, Singapore, where pandemic restrictions were eased earlier than other areas in the region, had a head start with the ultra-wealthy making a beeline for its shores, causing property prices to surge.

Membership in luxury clubs has also risen steeply. For example, the membership fee at the Sentosa Golf Club for a non-Singaporean more than doubled between 2019 and 2022 and is now at S$880,000.  /TISG

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