HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore is amongst the world's 20 most expensive locations for expats

Prices rose as the Singapore dollar strengthened versus the greenback.

Singapore has re-entered the global top 20 most expensive cities in the world for expats, according to ECA International's cost of living survey. Despite rising four places in the rankings, Singapore is still ranked lower than it was at its peak in 2016 when it snagged 18th place.

“The price of goods and services included in our basket of goods has only seen a modest increase in Singapore over the past 12 months, in line with other similar economies in Asia,” said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International. "However, the rise in the rankings has been due to the relative strength of the Singapore dollar versus the US greenback in the past year."

Hong Kong saw a significant drop in the rankings, falling from the second most expensive location in the world to 11th which represents the city's lowest position in three years. Hong Kong's standing was affected by the fall in the value of the US dollar against which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged, Quane said.

Exchange rates have been the main cause of movements in the rankings in the past 12 months. “Rates of price increases throughout most of the major locations in Asia researched has been quite low,” explained Quane. “Currency movements, on the other hand, have been quite volatile with several emerging market currencies strengthening against the US dollar in the last year.”

Every one of the Chinese cities included in the survey has seen a rise in the global rankings from last year. Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city on the list in 10th place overall.

Tokyo is now the most expensive location in Asia for expats to live in, despite staying in seventh place in the global rankings. 

“It is only the yen’s relative strength against the US dollar that has seen the Japanese capital become the most expensive place in Asia for foreigners to live and work, at Hong Kong’s expense. It has been a similar theme in Seoul, which is also now above Hong Kong in the rankings, despite remaining in eighth place globally,” explained Quane.

Meanwhile, locations in both Malaysia and Thailand have risen in ECA’s rankings, with Bangkok entering the global top 100 for the first time.

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