Asian cities now most expensive for expats

Published:  27 Jun at 4 PM
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Given the latest survey on costs of living in popular expat professional hubs, those looking to relocate to Asian cities might do well to renegotiate their salaries.

The recent Mercer survey identified Hong Kong as, again, the world’s most expensive city for expat life, with Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul not far behind. The Hong Kong result isn’t much of a surprise, considering that a parking space can set you back some $760,000, and the average expat professional aiming for Asia wouldn't be much better off in Shanghai or Beijing. China’s strong monetary regulations, growing economy and its desire to see the yuan as an international currency are all reasons for the soaring cost of living in its popular cities.

The Mercers survey concentrates on most expats’ priority when taking on an overseas relocation – the cost of everyday items including accommodation and entertainment. However desirable a job might be, running out of the monthly salary after three weeks isn’t any fun wherever you’re living and working, and the opportunity to save and invest part of your salary is a major draw. The survey results are aimed at international corporations’ calculations of compensation packages for their employees posted overseas.

In general, formerly top-of-the-tree Middle Eastern cities dropped down the list due to decreases in rental charges, with none found in the top 20 most expensive world cities and European cities getting more pricey than in last year’s survey. The UAE in particular is now more affordable as, despite the unpopular introduction of VAT, its expats are benefiting from a considerable reduction in rental costs, dropping its Mercer ranking from 19th to 26th. Rents in Dubai are now lower than in London and New York, but Saudi Arabia moved up the listing from 52nd to 45th.
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