File photo shows Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan. (Azrol Azmi/Borneo Bulletin/ANN)
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - The Economist’s 2017 worldwide cost of living survey has ranked Bandar Seri Begawan among the cheapest cities in Southeast Asia to live in, with Brunei’s capital placed 92nd out of 133 cities globally (ranked 95th in 2016 survey; higher placing indicates higher cost of living).
Other relatively inexpensive cities in the region were Manila (92nd, tied with Bandar Seri Begawan), Jakarta (82nd), Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City (both 78th).Singapore is once again ranked as the most expensive city to live in not just in Asean but in the world (1st), while Bangkok finished as the second most expensive city in the region (51st). No data was available for Laos and Myanmar.
According to an expatriate from Thailand who has been residing in Brunei for three years, the price of food here is considered cheap. One example is the crabs sold in the wet market.
“I go to the Gadong fish market every Sunday and found that the price of mud crabs is affordable compared to those sold in Bangkok, and the traffic jams here are nothing compared to back home.
“At times the traffic here can be slow, but even during jams it is still moving and takes less than 30 to 45 minutes to clear up,” he said.
This opinion is also echoed by an expatriate from Hong Kong who has been working in the maritime industry for about a year.
“The rent for a three bedroom condominium near the capital here is far cheaper than in Hong Kong and there is less hustle and bustle than back home,” he said.
Another expatriate from Australia who is working in the food and beverage industry said he enjoys the serenity here and likes the local delicacies such as the ever-popular $1 ‘Nasi Katok’ .
He also expressed delight in the proximity of both countries. “A flight back home is just roughly seven hours away with Royal Brunei Airlines,” he said.
The Economist’s cost-of-living survey, through its Economist Intelligence Unit sister company, also stated that Singapore retains its title as the world’s most costly city for a fourth consecutive year.
The survey, which compares the prices of 160 goods and services in 133 cities around the world – primarily used by human resources managers to calculate compensation packages for overseas postings – found that Singapore was 20 per cent more expensive than New York, and five per cent pricier than Hong Kong, which lies in second place.
Additionally, sustained recovery in the strength of the Japanese yen has led to rising costs in Osaka and Tokyo.
Asia now hosts five out of the six most expensive cities in the world.
This contrasts with a gradual drop down the rankings for European cities, which made up eight of the 10 most expensive places a decade ago, but now account for just four.
In Britain, meanwhile, the depreciation of the sterling after the Brexit referendum has helped push London and Manchester sharply down the rankings; London is at its lowest position in 20 years.
American cities have fallen down the rankings, too, although they still remain comparatively expensive compared with five years ago, when New York was ranked 46th worldwide. San Francisco and Lexington (of the state of Kentucky) were the only American cities out of the 16 surveyed to climb the rankings.