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Singapore Enters the Top 15 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Singapore Enters the Top 15 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Singapore has experienced a significant rise up ECA’s cost of living rankings and is now the 12th most expensive location in the world for expatriates. This was one of the findings from the latest Cost of Living survey published by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

“Singapore’s rise in our rankings is largely due to another strong year for the Singapore dollar,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at 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 and the sixth in Asia, overtaking Beijing, Busan and Yokohama from a year ago. This also marks the continuation of a longer-term trend, with Singapore rising 18 places since 2014 when it was 30th in the global rankings.”

ECA’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in 482 locations worldwide. The survey helps businesses ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments. 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. ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years.

Asia Highlights

Hong Kong is now the fourth most expensive location in the world for expatriates, up from 11th last year, and the second most expensive location in Asia. After being ranked in 28th place just five years ago, Hong Kong now sits only behind Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and the Swiss cities, Zurich and Geneva.

Quane said: “Hong Kong is now one of the top five most expensive locations for expatriates, primarily due to the continued strength of the Hong Kong dollar. Prices in Hong Kong rose at a faster rate in the past 12 months compared to Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul – all of which were ranked higher in our previous survey.”

The Chinese cities included in the rankings all remained fairly static, with none of the 14 locations moving more than four places. Shanghai was the only Chinese city to feature in the global top 10, staying in 10th place.

“The Chinese yuan has been very stable compared to other currencies during the survey period. Prices have risen at a faster rate in tier two locations, resulting in a narrowing gap in living costs for expatriate workers in tier one and tier two cities in the past year. This represents the continuation of a trend we have observed, with several developing cities such as Chengdu and Tianjin rising significantly in our rankings over the course of the past five years. All 14 of the Chinese cities in our rankings now feature in the global top 50, as compared to five years ago when there were only four,” explained Quane.

Elsewhere in Asia, Thai cities saw another significant rise in the cost of living rankings, with capital city Bangkok jumping by 36 places. 

Quane said: “We have seen the cost of living in Thailand increase over several years now. Bangkok especially has risen by over 100 places in the space of five years, and is now the 63rd most expensive location in our list. In doing so, it has moved into a category of relatively expensive locations in Asia. The city is now significantly more expensive than regional capitals including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila.” 

The location with the highest cost of living in the world was Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, which rose a staggering 110 places from last year.

Quane said: “Although the rise of Ashgabat in the rankings may be a surprise to some, those familiar with the economic and currency issues experienced by Turkmenistan over the past few years may have seen this coming. 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.”

Top 10 most expensive locations – Asia

Location
2019 ranking
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
1
Hong Kong
2
Tokyo, Japan
3
Seoul, Korea Republic
4
Shanghai, China
5
Singapore
6
Yokohama, Japan
7
Beijing, China
8
Busan, Korea Republic
9
Nagoya, Japan
10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 most expensive locations - Global

Location
2019 ranking
2018 ranking
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
1
111
Zurich, Switzerland
2
2
Geneva, Switzerland
3
3
Hong Kong
4
11
Basel, Switzerland
5
4
Bern, Switzerland
6
5
Tokyo, Japan
7
7
Seoul, Korea Republic
8
8
Tel Aviv, Israel
9
14
Shanghai, China
10
10





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