Most Expensive Place for Expats to Live: Singapore and Hong Kong Top the List

BE2C2 Report (updated)– Singapore is the world’s most expensive city for the fourth year running according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2017.

The survey, which compares the price of over 150 items in 133 cities around the world, found that Singapore was 20% more expensive than New York and 5% pricier than Hong Kong, which lies in second place followed by Zurich in the third.

Asia now hosts five out of the top six ranked cities in the world, with four European cities and New York joining them to complete the top ten.
Los Angeles came close behind as the 11th priciest city in the world.

Besides Singapore and Hong Kong, three of the five Asian cities in the top 10 of the Worldwide Cost of Living for 2017 survey were Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul.

The survey shows Kuala Lumpur the least expensive city in Asean in terms of the cost of living while Almaty in Kazakhstan is the cheapest place in the world and in Asia to live and do business in.

Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive cities and to many of the world’s cheapest cities too. Within Asia, the best value for money has traditionally come from South Asian cities, particularly those in India and Pakistan. To an extent this remains true, and Bangalore, Chennai, Karachi, Mumbai and New Delhi make up half of the ten cheapest locations surveyed (EIU Survey)

While Asia dominates at the top of the index, it was Australasia and Brazil which saw the fastest rise in the relative cost of living this year, the EIU report said.

Conversely, continued uncertainty from the Brexit referendum has weighed on the strength of the British pound, pushing the UK cities of London and Manchester sharply down the rankings, with London at its lowest position in 20 years.

The cost of living has correlation with economic growth. Asia’s economy has grown significantly over the last 25 years, causing the continent to represent 40 percent of the global economy in 2016, according to a 2016 International Monetary Fund report. On average, the region’s economy sees an increase of around six percent a year.

Human resources experts said cost of living is only one of the issues people consider in their decision for a work destination.

Mr Nilay Khandelwal, regional director at Michael Page Singapore, said: “Singapore’s attractiveness remains strong for an expat coming from any part of the world. Quality of life, education facilities, connectivity for corporate and professional travel, stable political environment still make it attractive as an investor or an individual looking to Asia.”

Mr Khandelwal also noted an “increase in Europe and other Asian country nationals moving to Singapore” within niche functions such as fintech, research and development, as well as analytics.

The EIU survey is designed to help human resources and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances, as well as build compensation packages for expatriates and business travelers.

The EIU report was published the same day as a separate ranking that said Singapore had the fourth lowest cost for talents.

The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report and Ranking released by Startup Genome also said Singapore has the best start-up ecosystems in the world for talents and the third-best access to talents.

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