S'pore is 14th most expensive city in the world for expats, down 2 ranks but stays at 6th in Asia

Singapore has been overtaken by Copenhagen in Denmark and Bern in Switzerland. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Singapore is the 14th most expensive city in the world for expatriates, moving down two spots from last year's ranking because of the weakening Singapore dollar.

The Republic has been overtaken by Copenhagen in Denmark and Bern in Switzerland, according to a survey released by human resource consultancy ECA International on Tuesday (Dec 15).

Hong Kong remains the most expensive location for expatriates to live in despite falling rental due to the ongoing political uncertainty, followed by Tokyo and New York.

Mr Lee Quane, ECA International's director for Asia, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a global recession, leading to a decline in trade for the Singapore economy.

"This contributed to the weakening of the Singapore dollar compared to stronger currencies, like the Danish kroner and Swiss franc," he added.

In Asia, Singapore retains its No. 6 position from last year.

Top on the list in Asia as well as globally is Hong Kong. Even as the Chinese city grapples with ongoing political uncertainty, Hong Kong owes its status as the most expensive city for expatriates to its "exceptionally high housing costs", said Mr Quane.

Other Asian cities in the top 10 global rankings are Tokyo (No. 2), Seoul (No. 8) and Yokohama (No. 10).

ECA International assesses the cost of living in cities for non-local employees based on a basket of consumer goods and services, such as groceries and leisure activities.

For this year's survey, cost of living research was combined with accommodation data into one index even though the data sets were previously separated, said an ECA International spokesman.

"As such, the 2019 rankings... have been retrospectively updated," he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also not spared cities in Thailand and Vietnam, with the survey showing that every Thai and Vietnamese locations have slipped at least 10 places in the rankings this year.

"The Thai baht and Vietnamese dong weakened significantly against other major currencies during the Covid-19 pandemic, partly due to a major blow to the tourism industry as fewer visitors travelled to the region. Rental costs also fell due to the weaker demand," said Mr Quane.

He added that Bangkok is the only Thai city remaining in the top 100 most expensive locations in the world. Still, the Thai capital fell 16 places to No. 39 on the global rankings.

Meanwhile, European cities have risen up the ranking as uncertainty around Brexit subsiding this year compared with 2019.

London comes in at No. 6, having climbed four places since last year.

But with another Brexit deadline fast approaching, ECA International expects "volatility in the months to come".

Another factor that has brought about changes in this year's rankings is the collapse of oil prices.

As a result, countries heavily reliant on oil, such as Brazil, Russia and Venezuela, have seen weaker currencies and a downswing in their economies. The most severe impact was felt by Luanda in Angola, which plunged 104 places from No. 37 to No. 141 this year.

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