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Hong Kong keeps its crown as the most expensive city in the world for overseas workers, meanwhile 10 out of 20 of the most expensive locations are in Asia.

Hong Kong remains the most expensive location in the world according to ECA international's latest research report, thanks to rising prices but slower growth in 2020 thanks to the economic impact of Covid-19. Geneva took second spot, Tokyo while New York fell out of the top three,

“Hong Kong is consistently towards the top of the table and this year was no different with prices increasing by 2.7% overall in local currency," said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International in a press release. "The Hong Kong economy has seen a recovery of sorts after a turbulent few years caused by the Covid-19pandemic, and political and social upheaval before this, and the increase in local prices reflects this.”

The research compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods often purchased by assignees in 480 locations all over the world. Including the cost of accommodation for expatriate staff in over 411 locations.

This year showed a rise in the ranking for more cities in China with four locations now in the top 15 and Shanghai and Guangzhou both entering the global top ten.

“Chinese cities have seen a rise in the rankings on the back of a strengthening of the Chinese yuan and relatively high rates of price increases," said Lee. "The Chinese currency has strengthened against all other major currencies thanks to a rebound in the demand for Chinese goods after a Covid related lull at the beginning of 2020 and this means that these cities are now more expensive for overseas workers compared to previously. Additionally, inflation in China has also picked up this year thanks particularly to rising fuel prices,” Lee added.

Beijing moved from 18th in 2020 to 15th and Shenzhen from 17th to 11th.


ALSO READ: Two in five people plan to emigrate from Hong Kong in the next five years


North Asia

The same trend could be observed in Taiwan with Taipei now in the top 20 twenty most expensive global locations. According to the report the rise in rankings could be attributed to a boost in the Taiwanese dollar as exports strengthened, especially the Taiwanese dollar. 

Tokyo dropped to third in the rankings as the yen fell against major currencies. Yokohama fell out of the global top ten to 16th.

"Despite Japan seeing a rare rise in prices thanks in part to more expensive imports, particularly oil," said Lee. "The weaker yen has outweighed any price rises, which has resulted in Japanese cities becoming a little cheaper compared to some other major global locations.”

South East Asia

Singapore remained steady in the rankings, rising two places to 12th globally. Inflation in day-to-day items together with high rates of growth in rental costs and the strength of the Singapore dollar against the yen and US dollar. contributed to Singapore's rise of 2 places.

Thai locations on the other hand saw a significant drop in rankings. Bangkok is now outside the top 50 dropping 12 places while all other Thai cities moved outside the top 12 locations. The lack of tourism and travel restrictions impacted the Thai economy causing all Thai locations to plummet. While inflation has remained relatively low compared to other locations in the region.

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Rest of the World

Most EU locations dropped in the ranking thanks to volatility with the Euro. Paris fell out of the top 30 while Madrid, Brussels and Rome all fell in the rankings.

“Nearly every major Eurozone city saw a drop in the rankings this year as the euro performed worse in the last 12 months than the US dollar and British pound,” said Lee.

Russian cities rebounded after falling in the past, Moscow moved up four places to rank 52nd globally and St. Petersburg is up 12 places to 138th globally.


ALSO READ: The top 10 most liveable cities globally in 2021, ranked


Photos / ECA international

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