Singapore moves up global rankings of most expensive cities for expats

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Singapore has become the 16th most expensive city in the world for expatriates this year, according to an international cost of living study.

The city-state occupied the 18th spot last year. “Over the past five years, Singapore has continued to rise in the ECA global rankings from 33rd in 2011, up 17 places to 16th in 2016,” said the human resource consultancy firm ECA International which conducted the research.

While prices didn’t increase so much here this year, the Singapore dollar appreciated against most major currencies in the months leading up to the survey, said ECA International to explain Singapore’s rise in the ranking.

The purpose of the survey is to help companies ensure that the spending power of their employees is not affected while on international assignment. Cost of living is compared using a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by expats in hundreds of locations across the world.

In detail, the survey, carried out in March and September, covers the cost of grocery and meals out alongside a host of other basic and general necessities, such as clothing and leisure services. However, it doesn’t include certain living costs such as accommodation rental, utilities charges, car purchases and school fees, as they are usually covered by separate expat packages.

In Asia Pacific, Singapore’s ranking fell from the eighth position in 2015 to ninth this year, while Japan’s Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka all made big jumps to reach the top of the list.

Ten Asia Pacific cities made it into the global top 20 list this year, compared to eight last year.

While remaining ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing fell the rankings to respectively occupy the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th spots at the global level this year.

The three most expensive cities in the world for expatriates are now Tokyo, Luanda in Angola (Africa) and Zurich in Switzerland. Last year, the top three spots were all taken by Swiss cities.