It’s no secret that costs have been rising rapidly in Singapore. The so-called Lion City has recorded strong economic growth over the last several decades and has transformed from a once sleepy back port into a vibrant trade and business hub. A limited availability of land, however, has sent property prices skyrocketing.
High rent prices, in turn, have had impacts on other costs, such as food, consumer goods, and restaurant meal costs. Businesses, after all, must also contend with higher land and rent costs and must then pass on said costs to their customers.
While Singapore’s status as a city-state certainly has impacted living costs, Asia as a whole has seen living costs skyrocket in recent years. Economies have been booming, but by and large growth has been centered in major cities.
As economic growth has expanded at breakneck speed, living costs have climbed. Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and other cities are either near the top of living cost lists, or quickly climbing.
Singapore’s Ranking doesn’t tell the whole story
The ranking should be taken with some caveats. For example, car ownership was one of the factors considered in the study, and Singapore is indeed infamous for its high car prices. Even a Honda Civic will set you back well over $100,000 USD. The city-state does have one of the world’s best public transportation systems, however, with buses and railways crisscrossing the island.
Also, rent prices in Singapore are extremely high but local residents can access subsidized housing. Indeed, about 80% of Singapore citizens live in government-subsidized housing, so rent prices are actually kept quite reasonable for citizens themselves. For the million plus expats who live in Singapore, however, rent prices can be quite daunting.
Is Singapore a totalitarian state?
Singapore now enjoys some of the world’s highest development indicators. The city-state regularly comes near the top of rankings for education, human development index scores, investment, economic growth, and various other indicators. Critics charge, however, that the government is inherently oppressive and the tradeoffs for economic growth and similar measures are too high.
For example, the media in Singapore is intensely controlled by the government. Critical statements against the government or government officials can result in censorship, and newspapers and websites can be forced to withdraw articles and face stiff fines.
Given the high levels of control the government exercises over society, some have come to question whether or not economic growth itself has been worth it. Singapore’s ruling Peoples’ Action Party has seen its popularity steadily decline in recent years in spite of strong economic growth and social progress.