Friday, December 5, 2008

Shenzhen Pricier For Expats Than S'pore

Source : The Business Times, December 5, 2008

CHINESE cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou have surged past Singapore when it comes to expatriate living costs, a survey has shown.

Although Singapore has traditionally ranked as one of the more expensive Asian countries for expats, it dropped three notches this year to 12th place in a study by ECA International.

The strong yen made Tokyo the dearest city in Asia for expats, followed by three other Japanese cities - Yokohama, Nagoya and Kobe. 'Goods and services in Tokyo were 43 per cent more expensive than in Singapore in September 2007 and this gap has since widened to 68 per cent,' ECA said.

Traditional frontrunners such as Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai were again ahead of Singapore in this year's survey. And the appreciation of the yuan, coupled with soaring inflation in China, lifted Shenzhen and Guangzhou past Singapore for the first time.

'Beijing's movement has been driven by both the strength of the renminbi and persistent inflation, which we have also seen in other Chinese locations,' said Lee Quanne, ECA's general manager for Asia.

Globally, Singapore is the 95th most expensive city for expats, up 27 places from 2007 as the Sing dollar appreciated.

In contrast, Korean cities have become cheaper for expats due to the weakening won, which has dropped 48 per cent against the US dollar since September. Seoul topped ECA's Asian rankings in 2007 but dropped to 11th place this time round.

Human resource consultancy ECA conducts its cost-of-living survey every March and September by tracking 125 consumer goods and services commonly consumed by expatriates across 370 locations worldwide. These include food and clothing costs but do not cover big-ticket items such as housing, utilities and cars, as companies tend to allocate separate compensation for such spending, according to ECA. Multinational firms often use ECA's findings as a yardstick for calculating expatriate remuneration packages and allowances.

Angola's capital Luanda remains the world's most expensive city for expats.

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