ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore becomes more expensive for expats

Up two places since 2011, Singapore is in sixth place on the list of the most expensive cities for expatriates in the world.

According to Mercer’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2012, Tokyo is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, pushing Luanda, Angola, down to second position.

Mercer said Osaka is in third position, up three places from last year, whereas Moscow remains in fourth and Geneva in fifth positions. Singapore and Zurich share sixth place, with the latter one place up since 2011. Ndjamena, Chad drops five places, but Hong Kong retains its ninth place.

Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city for expatriates, less than one-third as expensive as Tokyo. “Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, have affected the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, inflation, and volatility in accommodation prices,” noted Mercer.

In Asia, Singapore (6), Hong Kong (9) and three Japanese cities Tokyo (1), Osaka (3) and Nagoya (10) all ranked in top 10 most expensive cities for expats. Chinese cities Shanghai (16) and Beijing (17) both rose in the ranking from 2011 as well.

Mercer's cost-of-living survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

“The cost of housing is also included and, as it is often the biggest expense for expatriates, it plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar,” explained Mercer.

The survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine appropriate remuneration for their expatriate employees.

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