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New visual analytics app compares cost of living across Asia Pacific

June 17, 2016 Apps No Comments Email Email

Qlik® (NASDAQ: QLIK), a leader in visual analytics, has developed a new web-based app for consumers that allows them to quickly and easily compare the cost of living across eight key cities in Asia Pacific (APAC) – Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.


Built on Qlik Sense®, the Qlik APAC Cost of Living app uses embedded visual analytics to enable users to uncover insights into the cost of living across different cities in the region. The app incorporates a broad cross-section of goods such as property, transport, education, entertainment, utilities, food, restaurants and clothing, in addition to allowing users to select ‘Budget’, ‘Mid-range’ or ‘Expensive’ across any cost category.

“With the constant fluctuations in Asian economies and changing consumer price indices (CPI), getting to grips with the cost of maintaining a certain standard of living before you move somewhere can be difficult,” said Phillip Beniac, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific for Qlik. “The Qlik APAC Cost of Living app takes the pain out of the process by using visual analytics to compare the average cost of living in various cities. Easy to assimilate visual representations enable expatriates, as well as local residents, to compare selected APAC cities side by side, and drill into the data to find out how their city of choice stacks up against the rest.”

Tokyo most expensive, Hong Kong and Sydney close behind

Japan’s most populated city, Tokyo, takes the overall title as the most expensive city, with costs 39% higher than the APAC average. However, delving deeper into the data reveals that all is not how it may seem. For example, looking only at the ‘Expensive’ category of items shows that Hong Kong usurps Tokyo as the most expensive city to live the high life. At the other end of the spectrum, exploring ‘Budget’ costs shows Sydney elevated in the rankings to second behind only Tokyo, showing that Australia’s sparkling harbor jewel is no place to try and live on a budget.

“APAC is well regarded as an attractive location for expats and also sees a great deal of mobility from within the region, with potential to accelerate due to recent initiatives such as the Asian Economic Community formed in December 2015,” commented Professor Wong Poh Kam, National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School.

“Part of this attractiveness of the region is the perceived low cost of living in various countries. However, cost of living standards can often be misunderstood unless people have access to a good level of detailed information that informs them what it will cost to live their particular lifestyle. For example, not everyone wants or needs to own a car, which can be a particularly expensive proposition in some APAC cities, especially Singapore and Tokyo, where the public transport network is already extensive.”

Deeper insights with visual analytics

Using heat maps, the Qlik APAC Cost of Living app instantly illustrates how the prices of individual items in various countries differ from the APAC average, with red highlighting the costliest and blue denoting the least expensive. A ‘Highs and Lows’ page enables users to track prices of particular items – from alcohol and entertainment to clothing and household essentials – across APAC, and literally watch the colors change.

With so many variables to choose from in the app, some interesting insights that one can find include:

Education: Sydney has the second most expensive education costs in APAC for public and private schools, which cost 41% and 39% more than the region average respectively. The cost of sending a child to private school in Sydney equates to sending 16 children to a private school in Mumbai.

Transportation: The most expensive public buses by far belong to Sydney being 208% more costly than the APAC average. Driving is comparatively more attractive in Sydney than the rest of APAC, with petrol being 22% cheaper and the Vokswagen Golf being 46% cheaper, both being the second cheapest for their region.

Travel: Holidaying in Sydney is a mixed bag of costs. Staying at a 5-star hotel costs 51% less than the rest of APAC, but a meal for two in a hotel restaurant will cost up to AUD$342.75. That is about twice what it costs in Shanghai ($184.54) or Tokyo ($160.56). While lavish lodging in Sydney will be cheaper in APAC, the meals will compensate with their price. For cheaper budgets, when compared to the APAC average, a 1-star hotel costs 56% and street food will be 24% more.

Property: Sydney is always noted as having very expensive property and rent costs, but the city actually has a much lower property price variance compared to the average across Asia Pacific. Renting and purchasing in the inner suburbs is 44% cheaper than the APAC average, while renting and purchasing outside of the city centre is 28% and 21% cheaper respectively.

Lifestyle: Sydney drinks are notorious for being expensive. Local and imported beers are 66% and 63% more expensive respectively in Sydney than the average across APAC. However premium alcohol such as Hennessey XO Cognac is actually cheaper in Sydney, retailing at AUD$211.69 compared to the APAC average of $232.95. Similarly, entertainment is pricier in the lower end of Sydney compared to APAC, with movie tickets costing 43% more and theatre tickets 30% more, but a premium game of golf will be 60% cheaper.

“In the same way that organisations now routinely use business intelligence, individuals are seeking ways to use everyday data to analyse and derive insights into what’s going on in their lives. The Qlik Cost of Living app is a great example of how you don’t have to be a data scientist to get useful insights from data, by using visual analytics,” added Beniac.

The Qlik APAC Cost of Living app built on Qlik Sense, is based on data collected from varied sources including desktop research as well as surveys of regional retail chains and hotels. The app is available at www.qlik.com/apaccostofliving

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