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Hong Kong is world's most expensive city for luxuries

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Wealthy bargain hunters should be wary of getting married in New York, hiring lawyers in Hong Kong or buying fine wines in Rio de Janeiro.

[LONDON] Wealthy bargain hunters should be wary of getting married in New York, hiring lawyers in Hong Kong or buying fine wines in Rio de Janeiro.

That's according to research from Julius Baer Group Ltd, which broke out the world's most expensive cities for a variety of luxury goods and services - from houses to personal trainers to whisky. High local tax rates make Rio de Janeiro - Brazil's second-largest city - the world's most expensive metropolis in five of 18 categories in the Swiss bank's "Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2020".

Still, Hong Kong is the world's priciest city overall, with the former British colony cited frequently in the top 10 most expensive municipalities for categories such as fine dining and luxury cars.

The report released on Thursday underscores the growing scope of opulence among the world's wealthy as tensions mount in some nations over the divide between the rich and everyone else. Widening inequality in Hong Kong, fuelled by low taxes, has helped incite the city's worst unrest since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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The idea of luxury "once stood for fancy goods, such as handbags or sports cars", Nicolas de Skowronski, head of wealth management solutions at Julius Baer, said in the report. "Now it has morphed into a broad category that includes services and experiences, from fine dining to new lifestyle trends such as wellness."

While Hong Kong may drop in future rankings after months of protests take their toll on the economy, other Asian cities are well represented in the firm's ranking of most expensive, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei and Bangkok all in the top half.

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