Most expensive places in Asia

Tokyo is Asia’s most expensive city, followed by Seoul and Shanghai.

A new survey has found that Tokyo is Asia’s most expensive city – and the seventh most expensive city in the world.

Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing round up the top five respectively.

The survey, published by ECA International as part of a report investigating the cost of living around the world, compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by employees sent on overseas assignments.

Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are not included, as these companies tend to cover these separately when sending employees overseas.

The yen’s relative strength against the US dollar has seen Japan’s capital of Tokyo become the most expensive place in Asia for foreigners to live and work.

The Venezuelan city of Carcas topped the global rankings, but Swiss locations dominated the rest of the top five.


Regional highlights

Hong Kong, which is Asia’s fourth most expensive city, saw a significant drop in the rankings. Last year, it was the second most expensive city in the world, but this year is ranked 11th.

“Hong Kong has seen a significant drop in our cost of living rankings for overseas workers, falling behind locations such as Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. The main reason behind the drop is the fall in value of the US dollar against which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged, over the last year,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, at ECA International

Exchange rates have been the main cause of movements in the rankings in the past 12 months.

“Rates of price increases throughout most of the major locations in Asia researched has been quite low. Currency movements, on the other hand, have been quite volatile with several emerging market currencies strengthening against the US dollar in the last year,” explained Quane.

Every one of the Chinese cities included in the survey has seen a rise in the global rankings from last year. Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city on the list in 10th place overall.

Singapore ranked 9th in Asia, and 20th globally.

“The price of goods and services included in our basket of goods has only seen modest increase in Singapore over the past 12 months, in line with other similar economies in Asia. However, the rise in the rankings has been due to the relative strength of the Singapore dollar versus the US greenback in the past year,” said Quane.

Meanwhile, locations in both Malaysia and Thailand have risen in ECA’s rankings, with Bangkok entering the global top 100 for the first time.

“Once again prices increased at a relatively low rate, in both countries. In the case of Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur, this shows that the inflationary impact of the imposition of GST seems to have been brought under control. Rather, it is the relative appreciation of each country’s currency that saw Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur rise in our rankings to 99 and 182 respectively,” said Quane.

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