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Singapore the 12th most expensive city in the world for expats: survey

Janet Ong
Finance Editor
Singapore is also the sixth most expensive location in Asia – having risen from ninth place in last year’s survey – and has overtaken Beijing, Busan and Yokohama. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Singapore moved up eight places to become the world’s 12th most expensive city for expatriates, largely due to the strong Singapore dollar, according to a survey by ECA International.

“While increases in prices have been small over the past year, the strength of the Singapore dollar relative to other currencies makes Singapore the 12th most expensive location in the world,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s regional director for Asia, in a statement on Thursday (13 June).

Singapore is also the sixth most expensive location in Asia – having risen from ninth place in last year’s survey – and has overtaken Beijing, Busan and Yokohama.

And first place goes to...

Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, is the most expensive city in the world and in Asia for expats, the survey said.

“Ever-escalating levels of inflation, coupled with a prominent illegal black market for foreign currencies have pushed up the cost of imports. This implies that the costs for visitors in Ashgabat, at the official exchange rate, have increased enormously – putting it firmly at the top of the rankings,” Quane said.

Hong Kong is the second most expensive location in Asia for expats to live in, and the fourth most expensive in the world. Tokyo was ranked the third most costly city in Asia and the seventh most expensive globally, followed by Seoul, which ranking fourth in Asia and eighth in the world.

The strength of the Hong Kong dollar and relatively higher rates of inflation over the past year were largely to blame for the city’s rise in ranking, said Quane.

Elsewhere in Asia, Bangkok jumped 36 places to the 63rd most expensive location, making it more expensive than Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila.

14 Chinese cities in top 50

In mainland China, all 14 Chinese cities surveyed by ECA remain in the global top 50, compared with only four cities five years ago. Shanghai led the way as the 10th most expensive location globally, and the fifth in Asia.

ECA International said that its surveys, which were carried out in March and September, help businesses ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments.

The survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 482 locations worldwide.

Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances. Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA’s cost of living basket.

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