Singapore Drops In The Most Expensive Place To Live Rankings

The effects of Covid-19 reverberates around the world impacted people and nations in different ways with mostly being negative. In the latest report published by ECA International the global rankings on the Top Ten Most Expensive Places for Expatriates sees the top 3 remain the same with Hong Kong taking the top spot, followed by Tokyo and New York. However, Singapore which held the 12th place in 2019 has lost out to other cities dropping 2 spots down the rank.

“Both the direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy and the resultant fall in trade from the global recession left a blow on Singapore’s economy,” said Lee Quane Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “This contributed to the weakening of the Singapore dollar compared to stronger currencies, like the Danish kroner and Swiss franc. As such, Copenhagen and Bern moved above the city state in the rankings this year.”

Despite the fall in rankings, Lee posited that it, on its own, will not influence Singapore’s attractiveness as a location to expatriates, as other factors such as the country’s quality of living, access to education for children, and immigration policies play a part as well. Companies are likely to be undeterred by the fall in rankings as well when deciding on the locations to send employees to, as they are more inclined to look out for stability. This is evident in the fact that Singapore’s position has not changed much, having dropped by only two places. Such stability is reflective of low inflation and a stable currency, which allow for companies to budget costs for overseas assignees better.

Hong Kong continues to be the most expensive location in the world for expatriates, despite rental prices falling over the past 12 months. Its stability in global rankings is reflective of low inflation and a stable currency which allows companies to budget costs better and more accurately for their overseas employees.

Quane said, “Hong Kong is expensive across many areas that we consider as part of our research, but its exceptionally high housing costs pushes it to the number one spot. This is despite seeing some property prices fall in the last year, in response to a drop in demand due to the pandemic and ongoing political uncertainty.”

  • On the global front, most European cities rose up the ranks with London as the 6th most expensive location in the world this is attributed to the strong euro and British pound performance throughout most of 2020.

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years. It carries out two main surveys per year to help companies calculate cost of living allowances so that their employees’ spending power is protected while on international assignment.


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