Hong Kong named the most expensive city in Asia for expats

But Singapore drops out of the world’s top 20 as relative cost of living falls

Hong Kong is the most expensive city in Asia and the second costliest in the world for expatriates to live in.

That’s the finding of the latest Cost of Living survey, published by global mobility specialists ECA International.

Singapore dropped out of the world’s top 20, falling from 18th to 24th. The most expensive city in the world for expats was named as Luanda, the capital of Angola.

“Over the past few years, the Hong Kong dollar has appreciated against most major currencies, owing to its peg to the US dollar, which has pushed up the price of goods and services relative to those in locations whose currencies have weakened,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s Asia director.

“For organisations who send staff into Hong Kong and provide cost of living allowances to protect their purchasing power, they will likely need to increase them to ensure that their employees’ buying power remains protected.”

Earlier this year, recruitment specialist Robert Walters predicted wages in Hong Kong would not rise significantly, mirroring the slowdown in China’s economy.

Quane also pointed out that while Singapore may have dropped a few places relative to other cities, those living there won’t be feeling any richer.

"Prices have risen in Singapore since our last survey," he said. "Therefore, in local currency terms, expatriates in Singapore will clearly have felt an increase in their cost of living in the past 12 months.

"However, as the Singapore dollar has depreciated against many currencies over the course of the last year, this has made the cost of living cheaper relative to several other locations than it was a year ago."

Seoul was third in the rankings, Shanghai fourth and Macau 11th. Kuala Lumpur fell 15 places to 212th, partly due to the weakness of the Ringitt.