Cities – Most Liveable, Most Expensive

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Singapore 542▲ Singapore by night – liveable, brightly lit, expensive

Singapore topped a cost of living survey just released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It’s the most expensive city in the world, pushed up to that pinnacle by factors like extraordinarily expensive cars, a government policy to try and persuade Singaporeans not to buy them. So an ordinary Toyota Corolla cost $110,000 in Singapore, just $35,000 a few km across the Causeway in Malaysia.

Singapore is followed by Paris, Oslo and Zurich – no surprises there. Melbourne, where I live part of the year, comes in at number 6, driven in part by the extraordinary strength of the Australian dollar. London, where I also live for part of the year, doesn’t even make the top 10.

Melbourne topped another city list, again from the Economist Intelligence Unit, but this time for ‘liveability’. Wikipedia has a liveable cities article, Monocle Magazine also produces a listing, topped by Copenhagen.

White Night - picture flipped 542▲ Culture is a factor in liveability so Melbourne’s annual ‘White Nights’ must help. My 2013 photograph is a fake. I’ve flipped it, from my riverside viewpoint it would have read backwards.

Just as interesting as the EIU liveability top 10 (I’ve been to all of them) are the cities that come right at the bottom of the hit parade. I’ve been to 7 of their 10 ‘worst’ cities: Damascus (Syria), Tehran (Iran), Tripoli (Libya), Karachi (Pakistan), Harare (Zimbabwe), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). The other 3: Douala (Cameroon), Algiers (Algeria) and Lagos (Nigeria) are still on my ‘must see’ list.

Kinshasa Stanley 542▲ But where are Kinshasha (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Kabul (Afghanistan)? The fallen statue is Henry Morton Stanley in the National Museum in Kinshasa.