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Singapore retains spot as 13th most expensive city for overseas workers

This is despite higher-than-average inflation of 5%.

Rising costs of rent, utilities, and petrol did not move Singapore from its 13th spot as the most expensive city for overseas workers, according to ECA International's research.

“The fact that Singapore retained its ranking as the 13th most expensive location globally despite higher-than-average inflation of 5%, which was fuelled by rising costs for rents, utilities and petrol, may come as a surprise to some. This was because the Singapore dollar has weakened against regional currencies, such as the yuan, and the US dollar at the same time, mainly due to a sharp slowdown in manufacturing and exports during the latter part of our survey period,” Lee Quane, Regional Director, Asia at ECA International said.

In January, Singapore saw the fastest rise in inflation in the last nine years at 4%.

Meanwhile, many of Singapore’s neighbours in Southeast Asia have fallen in the rankings in the past 12 months. A mix of currency weakness in some locations and relatively low rates of inflation in others have contributed to a widening gulf in living costs in Singapore relative to many of its neighbours.

Whilst Laos and Myanmar experienced high rates of inflation, at almost 10%, in the past 12 months, they still fell in the rankings as their currencies have weakened considerably. Laos was struggling with both lower exports to China and the affordability of its rising foreign debt. In the case of Myanmar, currency weakness was due to the economic paralysis which followed the coup in 2021.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, is still the most expensive city for overseas workers.

ECA International carries out two main surveys per year to help companies calculate the cost of living allowances so that their employees' spending power is protected whilst on an international assignment. The surveys compare a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 490 locations worldwide. ECA’s accommodation data is also factored in, comparing rental costs in areas typically inhabited by expatriate staff in over 410 locations worldwide.

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