Expatriate rents in Singapore sees rise for the first time in five years

In the latest research published by ECA International, average monthly rent for expatriates in Singapore has risen for the first time in five years.

The average monthly rental price currently for an unfurnished, mid-market, three-bedroom apartment in areas inhabited by international executives is now USD 4, 233. This marks a rise of 1.4 percent from the previous year.

“There was also evidence that expatriate populations were moving from Hong Kong to Singapore due to the relative stability of the latter, thus increasing the demand for housing. However, the recent establishment of tighter restrictions on work permits for overseas workers have now counteracted this somewhat,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, ECA International.

“It is also important to note that the rise in the average rent in Singapore remains relatively low, at less than 2 percent from last year. Also, Singapore is still only the ninth most expensive location in Asia for overall rental costs, coming behind cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai and Seoul,” Quane added.

Asia Highlights

Hong Kong on the other hand has been the named the most expensive location in the world for expatriate accommodation for the third year in a row.

The average monthly rent in the city has seen an increase by 3.45 percent to USD 11,318 from the previous year.

“Despite another increase in rental costs for expatriates living in Hong Kong, the rise was lower than the 4.9% increase that was seen the year before. Hong Kong has the most expensive rents due to a number of factors – notably, the high population density of the territory and limited opportunities to build new homes, which combine to drive rental costs upwards,” Quane said.

Credit: ECA International’s Housing Data

She further stated in light of the prolonged anti-government protests and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, rent falls throughout 2020 is expected as the number of overseas workers in Hong Kong drops significantly.

Taiwan’s capital, Taipei has also seen steep increases in rent from 2019 with a rise of 5.29 percent, moving the city into the top 50 most expensive locations in the world for expatriate accommodation.

“The rent increases seen in Taipei are due to two main factors. Firstly, expatriate numbers have increased in the city due to the award of government contracts for a major offshore wind power project. Secondly, after years of unsustainable rises to property sales prices in Taipei, competition for rentals has increased as many local nationals continue to rent in anticipation of future drops in the housing market,” Quane highlighted.

Credit: ECA International’s Housing Data

Global Highlights

In Australia, locations have seen significant drop in rents with the exception of Canberra. Sydney in a surprising turn, also saw one of the largest drops in average rent.

Meanwhile in the U.S., rents have become more expensive for expatriates, with nearly all cities in the States rising in the rankings.

“Generally speaking, the U.S. cities in our rankings have risen due to the strong performance of the dollar. However, there are local reasons for the increases in expatriate rental costs as well. On the other hand, New York saw lower than expected rental increases after Amazon withdrew their plans to establish a second headquarters in Queens,” Quane said.

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