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Some luxury items remain cheap in Manila

/ 08:46 PM June 07, 2013

The price of luxury goods is on the rise as the ranks of Asia’s elite continue to expand but Manila still offers some surprising budget finds for the value-conscious millionaire or billionaire, according to a new report by Swiss private bank Julius Baer.

For high networth individuals, or those with at least $1 million in liquid and investible assets, Manila remains attractive for non-essential health services, luxury homes, golf club memberships and, for the fashionable set, men’s suits.

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Buying frown lines away here is relatively inexpensive as a botox procedure could set an individual back by only $188, a fraction of the $5,800 needed at a high-end clinic in Tokyo, figures in the report showed.

One tooth implant for that million-dollar smile: $1,221 in Manila versus $4,500 in Hong Kong.

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Even a top-quality tailored suit for men is a steal at $1,309 here when compared with $3,066 in Kuala Lumpur, which the study said was comparable with rates in Taipei.

Those items are the cheapest among the 11 cities tracked by the third edition of the Julius Baer Wealth Report Asia, which said the region’s wealth-creation engine “has decoupled from mature economies.”

The Philippine capital was included for the first time, alongside Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Bangkok, Seoul and   Tokyo on top of the original benchmarks Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Mumbai.

“The economic rise of the Philippines has been overshadowed by its larger neighbors’ developments, but the strides made in recent years have placed it on an exciting path,” Julius Baer said in the report.

Also cited were property prices here, with a luxury home valued at $2.07 million, still comparable to neighboring capitals like Bangkok and Jakarta.

“While prices in Manila have undoubtedly risen, the property landscape in Manila echoes what we found in Jakarta: Luxury properties with amenities such as swimming pools and other extras are still relatively affordable compared to Singapore, Hong Kong and other cities in Asia,” Julius Baer said.  “If the Philippines remains on its current growth trajectory, this would put local properties in a compelling light.”

The figures provided in the report showed that Manila can also be expensive.

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Husbands-to-be might consider buying that Tiffany’s two-carat diamond ring in Mumbai, a true bargain at $30,282 compared with $683,700  in Manila—the priciest in the region where the item averages about $206,700. Be sure to fly back home, though, as a 500-guest wedding banquet in Mumbai at a top hotel can lighten your pockets by $155,000—almost three times the cost of a similar reception here at about $56,400.

The aforementioned goods and services form part of Julius Baer’s Lifestyle Index, a basket of 20 items “indicating the true cost of luxury.” For 2013, the lifestyle index has risen 8 percent, faster than mainstream inflation indicators, showing that the region’s wealthiest face growing pressure on their cost of living.

The fastest increase was seen in education, with average tuition rates for top schools like Harvard and Oxford seen at $78,076, up 30.7 percent from last year.

“This increase is more than double the surge of the next highest increase categories, namely wine, hotel stays and cigars,” Julius Baer said in the report. By contrast, boarding schools like Eton and Deerfield have dropped 2.1 percent to $50,306.

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TAGS: Business, luxury goods, Manila, Prices
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