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Singapore climbs to 5th spot among most expensive global destinations for expatriates, surpassing previous 13th rank: ECA Report

SINGAPORE — Singapore has risen to the 5th position among the most expensive locations for expatriates globally, compared to its previous ranking of 13th in ECA’s 2022 cost of living ranking.

In contrast, Hong Kong has dropped to the second-most expensive location in the world, surpassed by New York, according to the latest cost of living research by ECA International, a human resources consultancy company.

Singapore moved up from its 13th place last year, making it one of the few locations in Asia to improve its ranking this year.

Singapore, Seoul and Yangon were among the exceptions, with Singapore rising eight places to claim the fifth spot and Seoul climbing one place to secure the ninth position.

ECA attributed the rise in SG ranking mainly driven by the rapidly increasing accommodation costs, among other reasons

ECA said the rise in rankings for Singapore and Seoul was mainly driven by the rapidly increasing accommodation costs, although for different reasons.

In Singapore, rents rose significantly due to the insufficient supply to meet the rising demand. On the other hand, housing costs in Seoul increased largely due to a decrease in supply caused by changes in property tax regulations.

Meanwhile, the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is currently the 35th most expensive city for expatriates in Asia and the 175th most expensive location globally.

“The fall of many Asian locations in our rankings is partly due to lower rates of inflation relative to other regions included in our research,” advised Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.

“However, some locations bucked this trend. Singapore and Seoul’s rise was due largely to major increases in accommodation costs whereas Yangon’s rise was due to ongoing socio-political issues causing significant inflation for day-to-day goods and services.”

According to the report, the cost of a 500 mL bottle of soy sauce in Singapore is US$5.92.

Additionally, Singaporeans have to pay US$1.64 for 1kg of sugar, US$4.88 for a dozen eggs, US$5.34 for a cup of coffee at a cafe, and US$2.42 for a litre of petrol. These five items are included in ECA’s cost of living basket.

Costs for goods and services in Hong Kong rose at multi-year highs

Despite historically high rates of inflation, Hong Kong still fell in the rankings as prices rose at a faster rate in New York and accommodation costs continued to fall in Hong Kong in 2022.

“Costs for goods and services in Hong Kong rose at multi-year highs, showing that the city was not spared from the wave of inflation we have seen throughout the world in the past year,” said Lee Quane.

“In spite of this, Hong Kong fell in our rankings as the increase in prices of day-to-day goods and services was tempered by falls in accommodation costs in the city.”

ECA added that Chinese cities fell in the rankings due to the impact of a weaker Chinese yuan and lower inflation rates compared to other countries.

Shanghai and Guangzhou, while still being the most expensive cities in China, now rank 13th and 14th respectively in the global rankings.

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, dropped 11 places to the 31st spot globally, and Japanese cities also witnessed significant falls in the rankings due to currency depreciation counteracting high inflation rates. Tokyo, previously among the top five globally, fell five places to the 10th spot.

The fall in rankings for Japanese cities means that companies moving staff from Japan may have to pay more to protect their employees’ purchasing power while they are overseas, due to the weaker currency.

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for 50 years. It carries out two main surveys per year to help companies assess cost of living differences as part of salary calculations for cross-border moves.

The surveys compare a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 500 locations worldwide.

ECA’s accommodation data is also factored in, comparing rental costs in areas typically inhabited by expatriate staff in over 430 locations worldwide.

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