Hong Kong back in the top ten most expensive locations for expatriates

Hong Kong is once again one of the top ten most expensive locations in the world for expatriates, ranking ninth out of over 260 cities, according to a survey by ECA International.

Hong Kong has risen two places on the list and is back in the top ten after dropping out in the 2016 survey, said ECA.

Over the past five years (Sep 2012-Sep 2017), Hong Kong has risen steadily up the global rankings to become one of the most expensive locations for international employees to live and work in, the firm added.

Hong Kong: Second most costly city in Asia Pacific

“Hong Kong now has the second highest cost of living of any city in Asia Pacific, only behind Tokyo, up from fifth this time last year,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, ECA International Faster rates of price increases in Hong Kong combined with a strengthening of the dollar against the yen both contributed to Hong Kong leapfrogging many of the Japanese locations that were ranked above it last year.”

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years. It carries out two cost of living surveys per year to help companies calculate cost of living allowances so that their employees' spending power is not compromised while on international assignment.

The surveys compare a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in 262 locations worldwide. Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances. Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA’s cost of living basket.

Asian cities dominate the top of the table

Asian cities lead the way as the most expensive locations to live in, with over half of the top 50 most expensive locations surveyed this year being in Asia.

A total of 26 of the top 50 entries were Asian cities, with 14 Chinese cities alone featured on the list. This compares with just four EU cities and three US making it into the top 50.

In Japan, Tokyo has fallen seven places and relinquished the global top spot in the process – falling to eighth in the table. Despite this, Tokyo remains the most expensive location for expatriates in the Asia Pacific region. Other Japanese cities have performed similarly - with Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka all dropping out of the top ten.

Taiwanese cities on the other hand continue to rise through the rankings with Taipei and Kaohsiung 33rd and 45th respectively. This is a dramatic rise when compared with five years ago when Taipei was ranked 66th most expensive location and Kaohsiung not even in the top 100.

Singapore has fallen in the rankings and is now the 21st most expensive city surveyed. This is the first time since 2014 that Singapore has not featured in the top 20.

Elsewhere in Asia, the newly introduced GST tax in India seems to have had little impact on the cost of living in Indian cities. All Indian locations that were surveyed have risen slightly from their positions in the 2016 survey, but the highest-placed remains New Delhi in 166th.

“When a new tax is introduced prices do not always rise overnight. The introduction of national goods and services tax in India to replace a range of central and state taxes seems to have had little impact on the costs overall, “Quane said.

Top 20 most expensive locations in Asia-Pacific region

Location

2017 ranking

2016 ranking

Tokyo

1

1

Hong Kong

2

5

Seoul

3

6

Shanghai

4

7

Beijing

5

8

Yokohama

6

2

Nagoya

7

3

Osaka

8

4

Singapore

9

9

Busan

10

10

Guangzhou

11

11

Ulsan

12

12

Macau

13

13

Shenzhen

14

14

Taipei

15

15

Chengdu

16

17

Dalian

17

16

Qingdao

18

21

Nanjing

19

18

Xi'an

20

22

Global top 20 most expensive locations

Location

2017 ranking

2016 ranking

Luanda

1

2

Khartoum

2

21

Zurich

3

3

Geneva

4

4

Basel

5

6

Bern

6

8

Oslo

7

14

Tokyo

8

1

Hong Kong

9

11

Stavanger

10

20

Seoul

11

12

Shanghai

12

13

Tel Aviv

13

19

Copenhagen

14

23

Jerusalem

15

22

Beijing

16

15

Kinshasa

17

10

Yokohama

18

5

Nagoya

19

7

Osaka

20

9

 

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