Singapore enjoys decent quality of life as one of the world's safest cities. What's the downside?

Singapore enjoys decent quality of life as one of the world's safest cities. What's the downside?

Michelle Zhu
23/05/18, 12:54 pm

SINGAPORE (May 23): Does higher spending power necessarily bring about an improved quality of life? Based on cities’ performances on the indices of Deutsche Bank’s annual survey of global prices and living standards, these two separate priorities can vary greatly from city to city, and very rarely balance out.  

According to Deutsche’s latest report, Mapping the World’s Prices 2018, Singapore has climbed 16 ranks to No. 25 on its Quality-of-Life Indices, which is calculated by aggregating various underlying sub-indices such as consumer purchasing power (purchasing power index or PPI) and traffic congestion and commute times (traffic commute time index).

Out of the 50 cities analysed by Deutsche, Singapore ranks second on the Safety sub-index, but falls far behind its peers at No. 45 in terms of climate.

Separately, on Deutsche’s latest Disposable Income Index after Rents – assuming two people are working sharing financial responsibilities – the city state has deteriorated four places to No. 18 despite its improvement of an average disposable income of US$2,112 compared to US$2,081 a year ago.

In fact, only four global cities have made it the top 10 in both quality of life and after-rent disposable income in DB’s study this year. These are namely: Zurich (No. 2 and 1), Sydney (8 and 4), Copenhagen (3 and 10) and Frankfurt (9 and 5).

In its report, Deutsche observes that more developed world (MDW) cities are generally “home to one of the big dilemmas in life” – that is, more money, or a better quality of life.

Tokyo is seemingly the best balance between the two, highlights the bank. The capital city ranks 13 and 15 in terms of quality of life after-rent disposable income, respectively. This balance is trailed after by the index performances of New York City, Paris, and London.  

On the other hand, Deutsche notes that emerging market (EM) cities have scored “very badly” internationally on both measures as their wages lag behind MDW peers, coupled with much-higher pollution levels, poorer health care and safety, and often a more extreme climate.

“Megacities will be home to a select group of the most affluent in society and for this group the trade-off of life in a big city possibly works more in their favour. In contrast, a low paid megacity worker may have an inferior lifestyle than their even lower paid more rural worker. However, megacities always offer that aspirational dream that possibly makes up for a poor near-term lifestyle,” notes the bank.

Other factors assessed in Deutsch’s research this year include how expensive or cheap it is to go for a weekend getaway, watch a show at a cinema or buy a cappuccino.

In Singapore, it appears to be now cheaper to rent a car given how the city state has fallen six places to 17 on the Daily Car Rental index, down 12% y-o-y.

Yet, it still remains the most expensive place in the world to buy a new mid-size car equivalent to a Volkswagen Golf, even notwithstanding extra costs, at No. 1 on the relevant index, followed by Copenhagen and Oslo.

“For those living in Singapore, Copenhagen or Oslo you’ll be pleased to know that you’re likely to be more healthy than your international counterparts as it’s so expensive to buy a car that surely you walk or cycle everywhere,” notes Deutsche.  

The bank's optimistic suggestion however may not be an option for those without much disposable income to invest in keeping fit – as Singapore also happens to have moved up a place this year to the No. 4 most expensive city for a gym membership in the business district, at an average of US$103.9 per month this year.

For now, at least, those who believe that “safety comes first” will find that Singapore ticks off all their boxes as an ideal city in which to reside. 

US sanctions on Huawei could backfire

SINGAPORE (May 27): It was only to have been expected. After nearly a year of pressure that failed to stop Huawei Technologies Co’s expansion -- especially in the rollout of the next generation 5G wireless network globally -- in its tracks, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order effectively barring American firms from doing business with the Chinese telecommunications equipment company. The inclusion of Huawei on the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Entity List means that companies would need to apply for a waiver to supply goods with 25....

Annica chairman Ong quits just as $33 mil goes missing at his law firm JLC

SINGAPORE (May 27): Jeffrey Ong, managing partner of law firm JLC Advisors, may have given instructions to pay out a sum of $33.2 million held in escrow by his firm for a client, Allied Technologies. According to Allied’s statement filed with Singapore Exchange on May 23, the payment may have been “unauthorised”, citing a letter it received from JLC on May 22. Allied’s statement did not specify who the payment was made to. Ong also abruptly resigned as non-executive chairman of Annica Holdings on May 20. In a May 22 filing with SGX, Annica CEO Sandra Liz Hon Ai Ling said Ong resigne....

SGX RegCo sees targeted approach in enforcement, more powerful market discipline

SINGAPORE (May 27): Tan Boon Gin, CEO of stock exchange regulator Singapore Exchange Regulation, says the market can expect a stronger regulatory presence. “You will see a series of enforcement cases coming up quite soon,” he tells The Edge Singapore. Tan’s assertion comes amid significant changes in the market as sentiment remains lacklustre and investors’ expectations change. The local stock market has gone through significant upheaval, not least because of the penny stock crash in 2013 that wiped out some $8 billion in value from the market. The event dented investor sentiment, a....