Phnom Penh moved up six places, reaching the 76th spot, in The Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, a ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Other emerging economy cities like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, and Hanoi also climbed several places in the ranking, while Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris shared the tile of most expensive city in the world.
In a statement, EIU said cities that moved up in the ranking benefited from the high economic growth recorded in 2018.
“A big mover is Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, rising 10 spots to 88, followed by Bangkok, up six points to 41, and Manila (nine points to 92). Vietnam’s Hanoi and Phnom Penh each rose by six places.
“Cities in these countries have benefited from the high economic growth recorded last year, with Vietnam leading with real gross domestic growth of 7.1 percent in 2018,” EIU said.
The survey, which compares the price in 133 cities globally, found a degree of convergence across regions among the most expensive locations.
London-based EIU is the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, the sister company to The Economist newspaper.
The methodology involved the collection of more than 50,000 individual prices between March and September and published in June and December.
EIU researchers surveyed supermarkets, mid-priced stores, and higher priced specialty outlets. Prices reflected costs for more than 160 items such as food, toiletries and clothing, domestic help, transport, and utility bills in each city.
The prices were not recommended retail prices or manufacturers’ costs but those paid by customers. The prices gathered are converted to US dollars using the prevailing exchange rate and weighted in order to achieve comparative indices.
Survey editor Roxana Slavcheva said the researchers noted the converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Sydney.
“It is a testament to globalisation and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns. Even in locations where topping a grocery basket might be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive the overall cost of living upwards,” she added.
Due to exchange-rate volatility, the cost of living in some notable Asian cities has risen, with many urban centres in China and Australia moving in the opposite direction.
Weaker local currencies have pushed all five Australian and two New Zealand cities surveyed down in the ranking. Sydney has fallen from the tenth spot last year to 16 while Melbourne is no longer in the top 20.
Similarly, Chinese cities have mostly seen a decline in the ranking, which means they have become relatively less expensive.
“The primary driver here has been the economic slowdown led by domestic factors, with the tighter financial conditions and ongoing trade war with the US continuing to erode consumer and business confidence,” EIU said.
All South Asian cities feature among the cheapest 30 in the world, and continue to offer the best value for money in the region. India and Pakistan account for four of the ten cheapest cities, while Bangalore is the cheapest city in Asia.