Brunei capital ranked 63rd most expensive city

Azlan Othman

Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) is the 63rd most expensive city in the world to live among 139 cities, according to price-comparison website Numbeo. In the Asia-Pacific, it ranked 19th place and second in ASEAN.

The rankings are based on the average price of goods and services around the world. The list for 2021 puts the Sultanate ahead of its ASEAN neighbours but cheaper than Singapore.

The quality of life index takes into account eight indicators: purchasing power, pollution, house price to income ratio, cost of living, safety, healthcare, traffic commute time and climate.

Globally, Jersey and Bermuda took the first two spots for the most expensive places to live in, dethroning Switzerland from the top position in 2021.

Among others included in the top 10 were Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Japan and Bahamas. Pakistan is the most economical country at 139th followed by Libya, Kyrgyzstan, India, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Zambia, Algeria and Nepal.

Numbeo assembled the table based on costs relative to New York City, with the United States (US) city acting as the “100” baseline on the scale.

Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas. PHOTO: ABDUL QAWI BIN HAJI ZULKIPLI

Brunei Darussalam’s cost of living index was 49.35, putting it 31.26 per cent lower than in the US. Rent in the sultanate is, on average, 42.70 per cent lower than the US.

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs BND5 while a cup of cappuccino costs BND4.45. It costs BND1.03 for 0.33 litres of soda. Twelve regular eggs cost BND3.26 while one kilogramme of apples costs BND4.50.

BSB was also ranked the 63rd most expensive city last year out of 135 cities measured globally. It is the ninth most expensive in the Asia-Pacific region and third in Southeast Asia. In 2019, it ranked in 73rd place.

Numbeo also recorded traffic index, however there was no indicator for Brunei Darussalam. Numbeo’s latest traffic index report covers 81 countries and takes into account several factors including “time consumed in traffic, estimation of time consumption dissatisfaction, carbon dioxide consumption estimation in traffic, and overall inefficiencies in the traffic system”.

The report said, “We estimate that in BSB, due to travelling to work or school, per passenger produces 1,723.68 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide yearly. It needs 79.18 trees for each passenger to produce enough oxygen to cover that.”

Meanwhile, in the healthcare index category, Brunei Darussalam scored 77 points out of 100. The sultanate fared very highly due to free healthcare for citizens and easy access to medical assistance. The nation also fared well in skills and competency of medical staff, speed in completing examination and reports, equipment for diagnoses and treatment, accuracy and completeness in filling out reports, and staff friendliness and courtesy.

Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living (CoL) Survey published last year stated that BSB is also getting less expensive for expatriates living and working, as the sultanate’s capital fell 16 places to 118th globally. It was in 102nd place in the previous year.

The report notes that, in Southeast Asia, BSB followed after Singapore (fifth globally), Bangkok (35th), Manila (80th), Yangon (83rd), Jakarta (86th), Phnom Penh (109th), Ho Chi Minh (111th) and Hanoi (118th) while in the Asia-Pacific it came in at 30th.