Asia one of priciest regions for expats

Hong Kong (above) is the world's second-most expensive place for expats, while Singapore is No. 4.
Hong Kong (above) is the world's second-most expensive place for expats, while Singapore is No. 4.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG - Asia has become one of the most expensive regions for people working abroad, according to a survey, with its major cities accounting for half of the 10 costliest destinations for expatriates.

Singapore remained in fourth place this year, Mercer said in its annual Cost of Living Survey released on Tuesday. The Angolan capital of Luanda topped the list, followed by Hong Kong, which climbed one place from last year to become the world's second-most expensive place for expatriates, and Zurich in third place.

Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul also made the shortlist.

  • Most expensive cities

  • 1 Luanda (Angola)
    2 Hong Kong
    3 Zurich
    4 Singapore
    5 Geneva
    6 Shanghai
    7 Beijing
    8 Seoul
    9 Bern
    10 N'Djamena (Chad)

  • Source: Mercer 2015 Cost of Living Survey

By contrast, Tokyo, ranked the most expensive city for expatriates in 2012, fell four places from last year to No. 11 due to a slump in the Japanese currency after a massive easing programme by its central bank.

Much of the change in rankings is down to currency fluctuations, with the appreciation of the yuan against the US dollar pushing up the cost of living in China, which now accounts for nine of the 30 most expensive cities in the world for expatriates.

"Chinese cities jumped in the ranking due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods," said Mercer executive Nathalie Constantin-Metral in a statement. "Japanese cities have continued to drop in the ranking this year as a result of the Japanese yen weakening against the US dollar."

Overall, the cost of living in western European cities dropped due to a slide in the euro. The three cities that made the top 10 - Zurich, Geneva and Bern - use the Swiss franc, which jumped in January after the central bank removed a ceiling on its strength.

Luanda retained its top spot due to the high price of imported goods and security services used by many foreigners.

The survey by the Mercer consulting group compares the cost of more than 200 items in 207 cities, including housing, food, transport and entertainment.

It takes New York as its base city for comparison, and measures currency movements against the US dollar, which has appreciated significantly from a year ago.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'Asia one of priciest regions for expats'. Subscribe