HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - With Hong Kong and Singapore routinely topping the charts as the most expensive places to live and play, it may come as some surprise that Japan offers the best pay packets for expats in Asia.
The average expatriate pay package provided by companies in Japan to mid-level employees is US$386,451 (S$532,104) a year, eclipsing what's on offer anywhere else in the region, according to a report by consultancy ECA International.
Japan also saw the biggest increase in expat package values last year, thanks to a stronger yen and steeper housing costs, said Mr Lee Quane, a regional director at the firm.
ECA's annual MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey measured expat packages by cash salary along with other perks including accommodation allowances and international school subsidies. It also took the various countries' tax systems into account.
Perhaps because of some of the challenges living in India entails - think bad traffic, overcrowding and pollution - it came in at No. 3, with companies offering mid-level staff an average package of US$299,728 to attract overseas talent.
Hong Kong, the world's least-affordable city, took the No. 4 slot in Asia, with firms shelling out US$276,417 to international employees. Add-on benefits over and above salary were the highest in the region.
Singapore only just squeezes into the top 10. The city-state, known for its low taxes, good schooling and easy outdoor lifestyle, mean companies don't need to offer as many other bells and whistles.
On balance, it's still better to be based in Asia as an expat, the ECA study found. Packages in the US averaged just US$250,028. In Australia, seen as a dream destination for many because of its wide open spaces and coastal cities, packages were US$266,848.
Topping the list globally was the UK, with an average expat package of US$421,798.
"The rise in accommodation costs was partly responsible, with housing and rental prices rising throughout the UK," Mr Quane said. "This was particularly the case in Central London, a location that has long attracted high numbers of expatriate workers."
ECA's survey canvased more than 280 companies in 160 countries and over 10,000 international assignees. Data was collected in late 2018.