Singapore is 4th most expensive city in the world for expats, with Hong Kong costliest: Mercer

File photo showing the skyline of Singapore's central business district. According to a study by HR consulting firm, Mercer, Singapore is now the fourth most expensive city for expatriates.
File photo showing the skyline of Singapore's central business district. According to a study by HR consulting firm, Mercer, Singapore is now the fourth most expensive city for expatriates.ST PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI

SINGAPORE - Singapore is now the fourth most expensive city for expatriates, having moved up one spot from last year's ranking, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey published by global HR consulting firm Mercer.

Hong Kong tops the table as the world's costliest city for working overseas, followed by Tokyo and Zurich.

Said Mario Ferraro, Mercer's global mobility practice leader for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey: "Across the board, currency fluctuations and inflation for goods and services drive up the cost of living in Asian cities."

"While Singapore has climbed up one notch in the cost of living rankings from the last year, this is balanced off with high salaries and a stable economy."

Asian cities lead the top 10 when it comes to the cost of living for expatriates by taking six of the top spots in Mercer's annual ranking. Also in the top 10 most expensive cities are Luanda (6), Angola; N'Djamena (8), Chad; and Bern (10), Switzerland.

On the other end of the spectrum, developing and war-torn cities populate the bottom of the ranking. The world's least expensive cities for expatriates are Bishkek (207), Kyrgyzstan; Tunis (208), Tunisia; and Tashkent (209), Uzbekistan.

With its soaring rents, Hong Kong recaptured the top spot from last year's leader Luanda, Angola's capital, which fell to sixth position thanks to the weakening of its local currency against the US dollar.

Said Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer responsible for compiling the survey: "The strengthening of the Chinese yuan pushed Chinese cities up in the ranking. However, most cities in Japan fell in the ranking due to the weakening of the Japanese yen against the US dollar."

Elsewhere in Asia, Mumbai (55) is India's most expensive city, while Kuala Lumpur rose 20 places to come in at 145.

Conversely, Australian cities have fallen in this year's ranking as the Aussie dollar has depreciated against the greenback. Brisbane (84) and Perth (61) dropped 13 and 11 spots respectively, while Sydney (29), Australia's most expensive ranked city for expatriates, experienced a relatively moderate drop of five places. Melbourne fell 12 spots to rank 58.

US cities also fell in the ranking due to the depreciation of the US dollar against other major currencies worldwide. New York dropped four places to No. 13 globally, the highest-ranked city in the region.

Overall, Western European cities rose in the rankings, due mainly to the strengthening of local currencies against the US dollar and the cost of goods and services, Mercer said. Zurich (3) remains the most costly European city, while London moved up 10 places to No. 19; and Paris jumped 28 spots to place at No. 34.

Mercer's 2018 survey covered 209 cities across five continents, measuring the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location - including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, as well as entertainment.

New York was used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements were measured against the US dollar.