Hong Kong is now the third most expensive location in Asia for expatriate workers to live, and sixth most expensive in the world, said ECA International recently when releasing results of its latest cost of living survey.
“Despite the ongoing socio-political upheavals and the fact that the economy is in recession, we have yet to see a real impact in the cost of living in the city,” said Lee Quane, regional director - Asia for ECA International. Indeed, Hong Kong has only been overtaken by Tokyo due to the strong performance of the Japanese yen throughout 2019, which has moved many Japanese cities up the rankings.
ECA said it expects prices in Japan to increase further owing to the recent increase in consumption tax while next year’s Olympics in Tokyo are likely to have further inflationary effects.
As such, ECA noted that it expects Tokyo to remain above Hong Kong into 2020.
China. In spite of the impact of Swine Flu on pork prices, many Chinese cities surveyed by ECA have fallen slightly in the rankings.
This is mainly due to weakness of the yuan against major currencies in the past 12 months, said ECA.
“While rising pork prices have pushed up costs for many Chinese households in the past 12 months, the impact on cost of living for expatriates in Chinese cities versus their peers elsewhere has been limited as pork tends to be less popular among most expatriates and because of the weakness of the currency” Quane explained.
Macau. Macau has bucked the trend in the greater China region as it continues to move up the rankings from 25 last year to 18, while Taipei, Taiwan’s most expensive city, has remained static at 31, ECA said.
Thailand. Thai cities continue to be among the biggest risers in the cost of living rankings, with Bangkok rising 43 places and entering the top 50 most expensive locations for the first time at 47th place, according to ECA.
This is largely the consequence of a strong Thai baht, Quane pointed out. “We’ve seen Thai cities moving significantly up the rankings over the past few years; Bangkok has moved up 75 places in the last two years alone and Chiang Mai has moved up 56 places in the same period.”
Singapore. With the Singapore dollar continuing to perform strongly, the country has risen in the rankings for a second year running, moving up five places to become the 13th most expensive location in the world, said ECA.
“Despite low inflation and weakening global trade growth Singapore has risen five places to be the 13th most expensive city in the world thanks to the continued strength of the Singapore dollar. Singapore is now more expensive for expatriates than Seoul and Shanghai,” Quane noted.
Ashgabat, capital city of the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, remains the most expensive city in the world for expats for a second year running, according to ECA survey.
The city rocketed up from 146th in 2017 and has remained at the top spot since due to a combination of high inflation and a black market currency rate far weaker than the official exchange rate making purchases particularly expensive for expatriates in their home currency unless they can access the illegal black market exchange rate, the firm said.