Hong Kong has once again topped the list of world’s top 10 most expensive locations for expatriates, said ECA International recently when releasing the results of its latest cost of living survey.
“Hong Kong is expensive across many areas that we consider as part of our research, but it is the especially high housing costs that push it to the number one spot, said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.
This is despite seeing some lower prices in the last year in response to a drop in demand due to the pandemic and ongoing political uncertainty, he added.
China. The country’s tier one cities all feature in the top 20 most expensive cities in the world, with Shanghai being the highest in 11th place, despite a weaker RMB, as well as low or negative inflation in many Chinese locations.
Chinese cities remain some of the most expensive in the world for overseas workers to live — with Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing all in the global top 20, said Quane.
This is despite deflation and exchange rate weakness pushing most cities lower in the rankings, he added.
As with many other places, the main factor in the lower prices was the significant drop in petrol costs which dropped nearly 15% in many Chinese cities over the past year thanks to lower global oil prices, Quane observed.
As the Covid-19 pandemic escalated, many cities around the world saw stringent measures brought in to try and combat the spread of the virus, including citywide lockdowns, and the resulting lack of travel meant that petrol and oil prices dropped significantly in the face of weaker demand, he said.
Singapore. The country fell slightly in the rankings to 14th place globally, from 12th last year.
“Both the direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy and the fall in trade due to the global recession impacted Singapore’s economy, contributing to the weakening of the Singapore dollar compared to the Danish kroner and Swiss franc, among other stronger currencies,” Quane explained.
As such, Copenhagen and Bern moved above the city state in the rankings this year, he added.
India. The biggest faller in the rankings in Asia this year was Mumbai, which dropped 34 places to 94th position globally.
Mumbai, the most expensive city in India, has plunged 30 places in the ranking this year, the most of any city in Asia, according to ECA’s survey.
A combination of a weak rupee and some cheaper rents in the city’s expatriate rental market pushed Mumbai down the rankings, Quane said.
Other cities in India fared better in the ranking despite similar circumstances, mainly due to the poor performance of the currencies of many other countries around them in the rankings, he noted.
Australian cities have become more expensive for many overseas workers over the past 12 months, resulting in every location in the country moving up the rankings and Sydney entering the global top 50, said ECA.
The Australian dollar was very strong this year making goods more expensive for people coming from abroad than they were a year ago, Quane pointed out.
While the country is in the middle of its first recession in 29 years quick measures taken by authorities meant the spread of cases was fairly limited compared to many other nations around the world, he said.
In addition, most European locations also saw a rise in the rankings as the euro and British pound performed strongly throughout most of 2020, according to ECA.