Friday, June 12, 2009

S'pore Becoming More Expensive For Expatriates

Source : The Business Times, June 11, 2009

SINGAPORE is now the 10th most expensive city in Asia for expatriates, despite its weakened currency, a survey shows.

Having moved up three notches from its previous ranking of 13th place in ECA International's survey on cost of living a year ago, Singapore is however still ranked below Japanese and Chinese cities, which dominate the top ten.

'Price rises have not slowed down as much in Singapore as in other parts of Asia,' said ECA's regional director for Asia, Lee Quane.

Prices of goods and services in China and Malaysia have increased at half of last year's pace, while in Singapore, they have increased by three-quarters, Mr Quane added.

Also, currencies of locations previously more expensive than Singapore (such as London, Stockholm and Istanbul) have depreciated at an even faster rate than the Sing dollar.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that due to the strong yen, Tokyo maintained its position as the most expensive city for expats. Its lead was followed by three other Japanese cities: Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe.

Chinese cities and territories - Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou - stayed ahead of Singapore, due to the strengthening yuan.

'The yuan has continued to strengthen while the yen has appreciated by almost 8 per cent against the US dollar,' Mr Quane said.

'Many Western currencies, including sterling, the euro and the Swiss franc, have weakened. As a result, people coming from these economies into Asia will notice a considerable difference in costs compared with 12 months ago.'

Globally, Singapore jumped to the 72nd most expensive city worldwide from 114th year-on-year.

However, not all Asian cities remained expensive for expats. Due to the weakened won, Seoul has fallen to the 17th most expensive city in Asia, from its top position as the most expensive Asian city two years ago.

Similarly, the depreciating currencies of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan have lowered expatriate living costs in those countries.

Among the top 10 cheapest places for expats are Indian cities, as the weakened rupee coupled with lower inflation has made the cost of living for those locations fall.

The biannual survey by ECA compares a basket of 125 consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in over 370 locations worldwide.

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