Expat Housing Costs Up 22 Percent in Hong Kong, 15 Percent in Singapore

Heads up, CFOs. After remaining stable or even falling in 2009, housing costs for expatriates across Asia are rising again. Hong Kong and Singapore saw rents for two-bedroom upscale accommodation surge 22% and 15%, respectively, in 2010.

With monthly rent at the equivalent of US$2,830, Hong Kong is now the third most expensive in the world in terms of expat housing, according to human resources consultancy ECA International. The city was ranked No. 9 in 2009, when expat rents fell 25% because of the global financial crisis.
Singapore is the world’s fifth most expensive city for expat accommodation, at US$2,810 a month (it was ranked No. 6 in 2009). The increase in local currency terms is around 9%, but the Singapore dollar is so strong against the greenback that the rise is nearly double that in US dollar terms.
Tokyo remains the world’s most expensive city in terms of expat accommodation, at the equivalent of US$4,352 a month – 35% higher than Hong Kong and Singapore. That’s largely on the back of the strength of the yen. In local currency terms, expat rents in Tokyo actually fell 7%.
Seoul is ranked the 15th most expensive city for expat housing globally, followed by Shanghai (No. 24), Hanoi (No. 27) and Bangkok (No. 28). The cheapest places for expats in Asia are Karachi (ranked 118th globally), Shenzhen (No. 114), Suzhou (No. 113) and New Delhi (No. 107).
“Housing is one of the most costly aspects of an international assignment,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director, ECA Asia. “Companies need to ensure that they have an expatriate housing policy in place that takes rent price fluctuation into consideration.”
ECA has been producing the annual survey of expat housing accommodation since 1996. The principal sources of information are ECA survey data and information from letting agents and relocation agents. The rental prices were collected in September 2010 and converted into US dollars using the September 2010 exchange rate.


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