Apparently, Asia’s successful handling of the pandemic has made its cities more expensive than other regions.
Because of the slump in the US and Canadian dollars and sharp devaluations of Latin American currencies, the Americas is the most affordable place to be at this point in time. Unexpectedly.
Asian cities are more expensive partly because “COVID didn't become an epidemic quite the same way it, unfortunately, became in the other cities in the index," said Rajesh Manwani, Julius Baer's Head of Markets & Wealth Management Solutions in the Asia Pacific. "So they were able to function more normally than the others."
According to the key findings from the Julius Baer Group about luxury lifestyles released by Bloomberg today, Shanghai overtook Hong Kong as the priciest city in the world. Hong Kong fell to third place from the top spot last year, Tokyo ranked second and Taipei ranked fifth.
Other Asian cities in the list include Singapore (9th), Bangkok (11th), Manila (16th), Jakarta (20th), and Mumbai (22nd).
Overall, though, living a luxury lifestyle around the world became only about 1% more expensive in 2020, with the rich increasingly turning to conscious choices that may result in fairer prices for producers, according to the report.
In Vietnam, while it’s nothing close to luxury living, the 2020 report from the Spatial Cost of Living Index compiled by the General Statistics Office (GSO), which measures the relative cost of living in different regions and communities, named Hanoi as the most expensive city to live in.
To rank the cost of living in different localities in the country, the costs in each locality are compared to that of the capital, keeping the cost of living in Hanoi at 100%.
“Hanoi’s Spatial Cost of Living Index in 2020 was 100%. It was followed by Ho Chi Minh City with 99.05%; Hai Phong with 97.38%, up to six places against two years ago and two ranks against last year,” reads the SCOLI report.
With tuition in private schools and vocational schools showing 5.43% points higher than those in the capital city, HCMC’s education fees are more expensive than in Hanoi, GSO said. However, when it comes to food and beverage, entertainment, healthcare, and transportation expenses, the results show HCMC is cheaper than Hanoi.
Third on the list, the northern city port of Hai Phong, rose six places from the previous year’s ranking. Its economic growth has led to higher service prices than other localities.
Da Nang came next, followed by the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai, home to the popular resort town Sa Pa.
The runners-up in the ranking were Quang Ninh, Son La, Lam Dong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.
Meanwhile, the Mekong Delta region was the cheapest place to live in, with its cost of living 10.32 percentage points lower than in Hanoi.
Quality of life better in Hanoi
While it has gotten more expensive, Hanoi offers a better quality of life, according to a report from Numbeo.
With a score of 94.54, Hanoi is considered safer than Ho Chi Minh City, which scored 73.29. Numbeo took into account eight indicators: purchasing power, safety, healthcare, climate, cost of living, property price to income ratio, traffic commute time, and pollution.
Of those surveyed by Numbeo, 80.50% considered it safe to walk alone during daylight, and 55.32% during the night. Only 38.15% said it’s safe to walk alone in the dark in Ho Chi Minh City.
However, in terms of healthcare, the southern metropolis ranked better, with 59.48%, compared to Hanoi’s 55.68%. The former scored higher in skill and competency of medical staff, speed in completing examinations and reports, equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment as well as in accuracy of reports.
Both cities scored “very high” in the pollution index.