By Roy C. Mabasa
Looking for a place in Southeast Asia where the cost of living is the lowest? Then the Philippines is the place where you want to be.
Based on the 2018 World Cost of Living Index released this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Manila is the least expensive city to live in the region – slightly cheaper than Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, Jakarta in Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Hanoi in Vietnam, and Bangkok in Thailand.
The survey, which compares the prices of over 150 items in 133 cities around the world, also found out that the Philippines, ranked 101st worldwide, was 41 percent cheaper than New York City.
In its country report, the EIU said it expects economic growth in the Philippines to be more moderate in 2018-2022 as investment cools from the double-digit rates of growth posted over the past five years.
“Monetary policy will be tightened gradually, although the moderation in investment will also be driven by investors’ nervousness about (President Rodrigo Duterte’s) heavy-handed rule,” according to the world’s leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting, and analysis.
In its political forecast, the EIU pointed out that although President Duterte has managed to consolidate his position in Congress, “party lines are fluid and the political calculus for many lawmakers will change ahead of the 2019 mid-terms.”
Singapore was the most expensive city in the world for a remarkable fifth year in the survey.
In the rest of Asia, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, and Seoul are in the Top 10.
Tokyo, the Japanese capital, which was the world’s most expensive city until 2013, moved seven places down while Seoul, which was ranked 21st five years ago, is sixth.