Singapore fifth priciest city globally for expats

Angolan capital Luanda takes top spot; 4 other Asian cities in top 10

People walking on the Jubilee Bridge with the skyline of Central Business District in the background.
People walking on the Jubilee Bridge with the skyline of Central Business District in the background. PHOTO: ST FILE

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 at six and Shanghai at eight.

"This year's movements were due mainly to currency fluctuations, in particular against the US dollar," said Mr Mario Ferraro, 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 multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expat employees.

It uses New York as the base city for comparison against more than 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 of goods and services contributed to the overall cost of doing business in the uncertain global environment.

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

"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 No. nine, was the only US city in the top 10, which was rounded off by three Swiss cities - Zurich at four, Geneva at seven and Bern at 10.

The world's least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer's survey, are Tunis in Tunisia (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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore fifth priciest city globally for expats'. Subscribe