Hong Kong is still the most expensive location for expats.
Recent research has unveiled that cities in mainland China have risen in the ranking of most expensive locations in the world for expatriates. Unsurprisingly, Hong Kong remains the most expensive location for expats.
“Despite falling rental prices and a weakened currency, Hong Kong has retained its spot as the most expensive location in the world for expatriates to live and work,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.
“The Hong Kong dollar was weaker over the past 12 months than many other major currencies such as the euro and yuan, however, with New York facing similar issues, Hong Kong retained its top spot while New York fell two places to fourth in the rankings.”
Four cities in China — Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing have risen in the ranking and are featured in the top 20. Guangzhou joined Shanghai in the global top ten for the first time.
“The yuan has enjoyed a strong year as the Chinese economy bounced back quickly from the pandemic making most locations in the country more expensive for overseas workers than in previous years. The Pearl River Delta remains an attractive option for many international businesses and Guangzhou and Shenzhen are expensive for overseas workers due to high rents and growing demand for properties in these cities,” Quane said.
Singapore has dropped one place to 13th in the global rankings after falling below the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen but pushing above San Francisco.
“Although Singapore dropped one spot in the rankings this is mainly because of the changes in other cities around them in the list. With prices in Singapore quite stable, the change in costs for overseas workers in Singapore will depend primarily on currency changes. The Singapore dollar has been a little weaker than the yuan in the last 12 months - thus causing it to fall behind Shenzhen and Guangzhou in our rankings” he explained.
Thai and Vietnamese locations continued to fall in the rankings, as their tourism-dependent economies still seek to recover from the pandemic. Bangkok dropped 11 places to 34th, while Hanoi dropped twenty places and fell out of the global top 100 to 115th most expensive location.
“Cities that would have experienced high levels of tourism and overseas visitors before the Covid-19 pandemic have sunk in the rankings since the start of 2020, as their economies take a hit due to heavily restricted international travel. These effects can be seen in weaker currencies, with the baht and the dong significantly weaker against the euro and lower rental prices in properties targeted at foreigners. Bangkok and Hanoi have seen rents drop over the past 18 months as demand falls in these locations.” he added
Globally, US locations fell in the global rankings after a tough period for the US dollar while Australian locations all rose significantly in the latest rankings due to a rapid recovery after COVID-19 lockdowns. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Eurozone and UK cities moved up the rankings due to strong currencies and despite low levels of inflation.
Top ten most expensive locations for expatriates - Asia
1. Hong Kong
5. Guangzhou, China
6. Yokohama, Japan
Top 20 most expensive locations for expatriates globally
1. Hong Kong (2020: #1)
2. Tokyo (2020: #3)
3. Geneva (2020: #4)
4. New York (2020: #2)
5. London (2020: #6)
6. Zurich (2020: #7)
7. Tel Aviv, Israel (2020: #5)
8. Seoul (2020: #9)
9. Shanghai (2020: #10)
10. Guangzhou, China (2020: #13)
11. Yokohama, Japan (2020: #11)
12. Shenzhen (2020: #15)
13. Singapore (2020: #12)
14. Copenhagen (2020: #19)
15. San Francisco (2020: #8)
16. Beijing (2020: #18)
17. Bern, Switzerland (2020: #17)
18. Jerusalem (2020: #14)
19. Oslo (2020: #33)
20.Brazzaville, Congo (2020: #28)
ECA International's cost of living rankings combine ECA’s Cost of Living research and Accommodation research to enable a comparison of costs faced by expatriates around the world in 208 cities in 121 countries and territories.