Most expensive cities for overseas workers 2022


Hong Kong continues to be in the top spot, ahead of New York, the US, Geneva, Switzerland, London, the UK, and Tokyo, Japan.

Singapore has been ranked the 13th most expensive city in the world for overseas workers for the second consecutive year in ECA International's Cost of Living research 2022, ahead of Beijing, Mainland China, Yokohama, Japan, and Taipei, Taiwan.

Hong Kong continues to be in the top spot, ahead of New York, the US, Geneva, Switzerland, London, the UK, and Tokyo, Japan. Meanwhile, ASEAN members such as Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar have their cities "fall in the rankings" which analysts described as "the gap in living costs between Singapore and its Southeast Asian neighbours continues to widen".

For brief understanding, the research compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 490 locations worldwide. The data also factor in rental costs in areas typically inhabited by expatriate staff in over 410 locations worldwide.


Talking about Singapore's ranking in the top 20, Lee Quane, Regional Director, Asia, ECA International said: "The fact that Singapore retained its ranking as the 13th most expensive location globally despite a higher-than-average inflation of 5%, which was fuelled by rising costs for rents, utilities, and petrol, may come as a surprise to some."

He added that the Singapore dollar has weakened against regional currencies, such as the Yuan, and the US dollar at the same time, "mainly due to a sharp slowdown in manufacturing and exports" during the latter part of the survey period.

Hong Kong

Diverting the attention to Hong Kong, analysts explained that its rise was caused by the year-on-year price increases of 3% which, according to data, is "higher than what we typically see" in the territory.

That said, this price hike is "lower than the rates in similar cities both within the region and globally" — which analysts said is due to the strength of the Hong Kong dollar (pegged to the US dollar) in the past year, which enabled the territory to maintain its position as the most expensive location worldwide as other currencies have weakened.

ASEAN nations

Within ASEAN, cities in Laos and Myanmar fell in rankings because of high rates of inflation — almost 10% — in the past 12 months, on top of having their currencies "considerably weakened".

"Laos was struggling with both lower exports to China, and the affordability of its rising foreign debt. In the case of Myanmar, currency weakness was due to the economic paralysis which followed the coup in 2021," it was explained in the report.

As for locations in Malaysia and Thailand, analysts discovered that Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok witnessed an increase in petrol prices, up 49% and 33% respectively, but a decrease in rental prices. Such an interplay of economic factors, analaysts explained, "pushed down" overall inflation to levels lower than that of many other cities.

As such, both nations saw their city's ranking fall as the most expensive cities for overseas workers.

Top 10 most expensive cities in the world

  1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  2. New York, United States
  3. Geneva, Switzerland
  4. London, United Kingdom
  5. Tokyo, Japan
  6. Tel Aviv, Israel
  7. Zurich, Switzerland
  8. Shanghai, Mainland China
  9. Guangzhou, Mainland China
  10. Seoul, South Korea

Top 10 most expensive cities in Asia

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo, Japan
  3. Shanghai, Mainland China
  4. Guangzhou, Mainland China
  5. Seoul, South Korea
  6. Shenzhen, Mainland China
  7. Singapore
  8. Beijing, Mainland China
  9. Yokohama, Japan
  10. Taipei, Taiwan

Read alsoTop five most overworked cities 2022

Image / ECA International

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