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Singapore rises in expatriates' cost of living global ranking

Singapore rises four spots in a global ranking of the most expensive locations for expatriates, surpassing all Australian locations for the first time since 2009, according to a survey by ECA International. 

SINGAPORE: Singapore has jumped four spots from 35th to 31st in the global ranking of the most expensive locations for expatriates, according to a Cost of Living survey by consultancy firm ECA International. It has, however, been overtaken by Hong Kong, which ranks 29th globally.

ECA International says that the price of items in its shopping basket of goods and services for expatriates in Singapore has increased at approximately 2.3 per cent over the past 12 months, but it says this is a "relatively low rise" compared to other Asian cities.

“While price increases of items in our basket are now just over 2 per cent in Singapore, this is still a long way off the 6 per cent increases we observed a couple of years ago,” said Mr Lee Quane, Regional Director for Asia at ECA International.

Mr Quane noted that the cost of living for relocated employees would also be affected by the currency used to pay their salaries, and exchange rate fluctuations instead of inflation would more likely have a bigger impact on an expatriate's purchasing power.

For the first time in five years, Singapore's ranking has surpassed that of all Australian cities. It comes as the Singapore dollar has strengthened against the Australian dollar over the year, but has weakened significantly against the US dollar, euro and the pound.

Hence, "companies sending talent to Singapore from parts of the world where the currency has strengthened against the dollar, such as Europe or the States, will be able to continue to maintain their assignee’s spending power with a lower cost of living allowance," explained Mr Quane.

“On the other hand, companies sending staff out of Singapore and paying in Singapore dollars do need to ensure that any cost of living allowances they include as part of the assignment package are adjusted where necessary to reflect the fact that the buying power of the dollar has fallen."

(Chart: ECA International)

Tokyo has maintained its position as the most expensive location in the region for expatriates, despite dropping out of the global top ten for the first time in at least a decade. 

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