ECA International: Hong Kong Remains The Most Expensive City For Expatriate Accommodation

According to ECA International, Singapore is now the 26th most expensive location for international executive standard accommodation as rents fell by an average of two percent.

The average monthly rental price for an unfurnished, three-bedroom apartment in areas inhabited by international executives in Singapore is now US$4,210 , a decline of 2.01 percent compared to 2020.

Asia’s Regional Director at ECA International, Lee Quane has said that rent levels in Singapore are always notably stable and this year is no different, with the country seeing only a slight dip in market rents.

“This represents a reversal of the increase in rental costs seen in the previous year and is likely the consequence of Covid-19’s impact on the wider economy in Singapore. Moreover, with greater immigration restrictions for overseas workers set in place, this has suppressed the demand for accommodation in the country this year,” he added.

ECA International also highlighted other Asia Pacific (APAC) countries like Hong Kong which has been named as the most expensive location in the world for expatriate accommodation for the fourth year in a row, even though rental costs declined by an average of 5.95 percent.

Quane has commented that Hong Kong has seen a rare decline in rental costs this year as Covid-19 lessened the demand for accommodation in the top tier area where expatriates would normally reside.

“The pandemic has had a serious effect on international business in general, but more specifically, has severely limited the number of overseas workers moving to Hong Kong.

“This, together with the ongoing impact of socio-political tensions on Hong Kong’s economy, and the city’s unemployment levels at its highest rate in over 15 years, has resulted in a lower demand for high-end accommodation,” he said.

Additionally, Hong Kong is still by far the most expensive location in Asia for rental costs, and is still more expensive than New York, despite the gap closing slightly in 2021 according to ECA International.

For Taiwan, cities in the country all rose in rankings this year as rental markets saw an increase especially for the capital city, Taipei which climbed 20 places to be the 29th most expensive location for expatriate accommodation worldwide.

Quane has explained that Taiwan was one of the few locations in Asia Pacific to see significant rises in accommodation costs this year, with the average monthly rental cost in Taipei now standing at US$4,101 which is a rise of over five percent from 2020.

“This growth was a knock-on effect of the nation’s success in mitigating the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, as well as the repatriation of staff who were previously assigned to China.

This, coupled with demand for talent in key industries in Taiwan resulted in the increased demand for accommodation which implies that rents were able to stay consistent, and even increase in many high-end areas,” he added.

ECA International’s survey also saw average rents in Bangkok dropped by over 12 percent in just one year, while Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have seen a negative swing of nine percent and six percent, respectively.

It was shown that the rental market in these locations is heavily tied to the fortunes of the tourism industry, and landlords who previously rented out accommodation on a short-term basis, have since converted these to long-term leases thus increasing supply and reducing market rents further.

It was concluded that it is unlikely that people will see a change to this trend until international travel is fully open again.

In a previous survey in 2018, ECA International had revealed that Malaysia’s average rental cost for expatriates stands at US$1,621 per month, an increase of US$112 from the year before.

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