Singapore is fifth most expensive city for expatriates: survey

The Singapore Central Business District skyline on Nov 17, 2015.
The Singapore Central Business District skyline on Nov 17, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore is the world's fifth most expensive city for expatriates in a new ranking that also puts four other Asian centres in the top 10.

Angolan capital Luanda took the top spot followed by Hong Kong and Tokyo. Seoul was on six and Shanghai on eight.

"This year's movements were due mainly to currency fluctuations, in particular against the US dollar, we did see cities," said Mr Mario Ferraro, is the global mobility leader for Asia, Middle East and Africa at Mercer, a consulting firm that provides market data in matters of health, wealth and careers.

The survey is one of the world's most comprehensive, and is designed to help multi-national companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expat employees.

It uses New York as the base city for comparison against over 400 cities across five continents, and marks currency movements against the United States dollar to measure comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Factors like instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services contributed to the overall cost of doing business in the uncertain global environment.

"The majority of Chinese cities fell in the ranking due to the weakening of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar," said Ms Nathalie Constantin-Métral, principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking.

"The strengthening of the Japanese yen along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market pushed Japanese cities up in the ranking."

New York at nine was the only US city in the top 10, which was rounded off by three Swiss cities - Zurich at four, Geneva on seven and Bern at tenth.

The world's least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer's survey, are Tunis (209), Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan (208), and Skopje in Macedonia (206).

"Although a number of Asian cities remain amongst the world's most expensive cities, key financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore still continue to attract talent and remain a top choice for relocation," Mr Ferraro said.