News: Singapore becomes the 7th most expensive location in Asia for expats

Life @ Work

Singapore becomes the 7th most expensive location in Asia for expats

As per the latest Cost of Living survey published by ECA International, Singapore is now the seventh most expensive location in Asia for expatriates to live, moving above Seoul and Shanghai.
Singapore becomes the 7th most expensive location in Asia for expats

Owing to the continued strength of the Singapore dollar, Singapore has risen five places to be the 13th most expensive city in the world for expatriates to live. Cities like Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Tokyo, Japan  and Zurich, Switzerland are the top three most expensive cities for expats to live in. 

In Asia, Hong Kong leads after Ashgabat and Tokyo. Compared to the world rankings its position remained stable this year with the city continuing to be the sixth most expensive location in the world for expatriates.

Here are a few more highlights from the ECA’s latest survey on Cost of Living:

The global view

Apart from Swiss cities which continue to dominate the top 10 worldwide, most European cities have

fallen in the rankings since last year. In fact, continued uncertainty over Brexit has seen London drop to 140th place. Interestingly, the lowest position it has occupied since ECA began producing its Cost of Living rankings in 2005. 

“With Germany narrowly avoiding recession amid weak global demand due to the effects of the US trade war with China and Brexit uncertainty, both Berlin and Munich have dropped out of the top 100. With the Eurozone’s largest economy in the dumps, most Eurozone countries have seen a slight drop in the Cost of Living for expatriates due to the relative weakness of the euro,” shared Lee Quane, Regional Director - Asia for ECA International. 

Now moving to another part of the world, Ashgabat, the capital city of the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, remains the most expensive city in the world for expatriates for the second year running according to ECA’s survey. The city has rocketed up from 146th place in 2017 and has remained at the top spot ever since, due to a combination of high inflation and a black market currency rate far weaker than the official exchange rate. This makes purchases particularly expensive for expatriates in their home currency unless they can access the illegal black market exchange rate.

Further, US cities have risen across the board for the second year running, as the US dollar continues to be strong. New York had re-entered the top 20 most expensive locations for the first time since 2015, moving up to 15th from 24th last year. In other interesting insights, Honolulu also entered the top 20 in 20th place, overtaking cities previously in the top 20 including Copenhagen and Shanghai.

Hong Kong falls to third place in Asia, Singapore rises to seventh

Commenting on Hong Kong’s state Quane said, “Despite the ongoing socio-political upheavals and the fact that the economy is in recession, we have yet to see a real impact on the cost of living in the city.”

As the findings of the survey reveal, Hong Kong has been overtaken by Tokyo. While many might think the current socio-political scenario in the former city has a role to play here, Quane suggests it is due to the strong performance of the Japanese yen throughout 2019, which has moved not only Tokyo but many Japanese cities up the rankings.

Yokohama, Nagoya, and Osaka, all three cities ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, leaving Singapore behind. 

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, cities in Indonesia and Malaysia have also improved in ECA’s rankings. Cities in Indonesia rose the fastest, mainly because of the relatively higher rate of price increases in comparison to other countries in the region.

With the continued gap between demand and supply of skills in the job market, most of the companies have now expanded the scope of geographies while hiring. Even professionals are now on the lookout for better and more options to pick and choose the quality of job being offered to them. More globalization better relations among various economies of the world, has made it possible for talent to shift for jobs easily. As the talent scarcity at global level continues the trend of expat of hiring, companies have to continuously work on the various aspects of managing expats as well. 

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