Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability - Asia - World - The Independent

Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability

Some Singaporeans are concerned that more attention has been paid to attracting wealth than addressing their needs

singapore

Singapore’s super rich are always on the lookout for new playthings. At a jetty near the Changi Airport over the weekend, a vehicle called The Humdinga – a cross between a Hummer and a boat – was launched in a display for local media. The amphibious car is designed for disaster relief and policing, but some of the city state’s wealthier residents are eyeing it as an alternative to another Ferrari 458. The chance to bypass traffic by dipping into the waterways to reach the office, golf course or their yacht, is pretty alluring.

For the wealthiest, the news this week that Singapore now tops Tokyo and Osaka as the world’s most expensive city, according to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is probably not much of a surprise. But for ordinary Singaporeans, the daily cost of living has become a serious concern.

The survey, which compared cost of living in 131 cities, points to a strong Singapore dollar and depreciation in the Japanese yen for the result. Singapore was found to be the most expensive city to run a car and the most expensive place to buy clothes.

“The cost of living here has risen so rapidly in recent years that it’s practically impossible for young couples to afford housing or quality childcare unless they’re both working in relatively well-paying, white-collar jobs,” said Ashwin, an MBA student at  the INSEAD School of Business and a father of a two-month-old, who only provided  one name.

The Singapore-based EIU Asia analyst Sumana Rajarethnam agreed. “It’s not surprising that Singapore is the world’s most expensive city, it has been creeping up the cost-of-living rankings in recent years,” he said. “Ten years ago it was in 18th place, last year it was in sixth.”

With a population of 5.4 million people, Singapore now has more millionaires per capita than any other country in the world. According to Wealth-X, a consultancy that monitors the world’s über-rich, some 1,400 ultra-high-net-worth individuals call Singapore home, and they hold more than £96bn worth of wealth in Singapore. It has also overtaken Switzerland as the world’s fastest-growing wealth management centre.

 

“Singapore in general has become a very attractive place to live – it attracts a lot of top talent who have high wages… and it needs to import a lot of its goods to meet that demand,” Mr Rajarethnam said. “People moving here, demand for goods, high wages… that all drives up prices.”

Local residents look at increasing foreign wealth as the main influence on rising costs, although expats too are starting to feel the pinch.

“It is getting prohibitive,” said New Zealander Jo Dix. “As an expat I think we’re lucky – we have higher salaries than locals. If you’re a local person, I don’t know how you afford to live here. In some ways I think Singapore is pricing itself out of the market in terms of liveability.”

Some Singaporeans are concerned that more attention has been paid to attracting wealth than addressing the needs of locals. A report last year by Singapore Management University’s Lien Centre for Social Innovation found median income of employed residents in the bottom 20 per cent fell by eight per cent between 1998 to 2010, while the income of those in the highest-earning fifth jumped by 27 per cent.

“I shudder to think what single-income families or those in blue-collar jobs may be experiencing here,” Ashwin said. “The worst part is that wages don’t seem to be increasing in line with this rise in cost of living.”

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
Sport
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
fashion
Travel
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded 'Will.eye.am'
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week