Asian Cities Lead The Way As Most Expensive Place For Expats

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The reputation of Asia offering expats a cheap cost of living is fast evaporating as the region is fast becoming the most expensive place to live and work.

Trouble-torn Hong Kong sits at the top of the table as the world’s costliest city for expats for the second year running in a survey from expat benefits consultancy Mercer.

Mario Ferraro, Mercer’s global mobility practice leader for Asia, Middle East and Africa, said Hong Kong’s property prices weren’t all to blame.

“While it’s true that property costs are a key factor for Hong Kong’s top ranking, the underlying reason is that there is still strong demand for accommodation suitable for expatriates to a standard they expect and in locations popular with expatriate communities,” he said.

“With Hong Kong’s inflation having been relatively low in the year leading up to the survey, it’s clear that the strengthening US dollar is also a major factor influencing the high costs in Hong Kong.”

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Benefits of deploying expats

The cost of movie tickets, coffee, renting a home was  the highest in Hong Kong, while milk cost the most in Beijing ($4.45).

The survey ranked 209 cities across five continents taking New York as the base cost, ranking the comparative price of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

“In a skill-focused economy driven by digital disruption and the need for a globally connected workforce, deploying expats is an increasingly important aspect of a competitive business strategy for global companies,” said Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s career business.

“There are numerous personal and organizational advantages for sending employees overseas, including career development, global experience, new skillsets, and re-allocation of resources. By offering fair and competitive compensation packages, organizations can facilitate moves that drive business results.”

Most expensive and cheapest cities

The full top 10 most expensive countries (in order) were:

  • Hong Kong
  • Tokyo
  • Singapore
  • Seoul
  • Zurich
  • Shanghai
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Beijing
  • New York
  • Shenzhen, China

At the bottom was Tunis, Tunisia, followed by Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Karachi, Pakistan.

London came in at 23rdplace.

Tel Aviv (15) is the most expensive city in the Middle East for expat, followed by Dubai (21), Abu Dhabi (33), and Riyadh (35).

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