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Bangkok falls 19 places to 49th most expensive location worldwide

Locations reliant on international tourism have seen their rental markets hit especially hard during the pandemic, resulting in some major drops in the rankings. Bangkok has fallen 19 places to 49th, while Hanoi saw a similar drop of 12 places to 81st.

Olivier Languepin

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The decline of Bangkok reflects the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the rental market in the tourism-reliant Thai economy, according to ECA’s latest survey.

Hanoi saw a similar drop of 12 places to 81st place, based on an analysis of data gathered in September 2020.

The survey uses average rental prices for a three-bedroom apartment in the mid-range of the expatriate market.

ECA International has been conducting research into accommodation costs for international executives for more than 20 years to help companies provide the right housing options as part of the overall compensation package for mobile employees. The research compares rental costs in accommodation in areas typically inhabited by expatriate staff in over 360 locations worldwide.

Hong Kong has been named the most expensive location in the world for expat accommodation for a fourth year in a row but still saw rental costs drop considerably due to the effects of Covid-19.

  • Hong Kong retains its position as the most expensive accommodation for overseas workers, despite a drop of over 5% in rental costs from last year.
  • The impact of Covid-19 on business travel and overseas assignments causes monthly rents to drop by an average of USD 549 to USD 10 769 (HKD 83 466).
  • Taipei climbs twenty places in the latest rankings, while tourism hubs such as Bangkok and Hanoi fall.
  • New York and Tokyo remain in second and third position in the rankings respectively.

“Rental prices have dropped in many locations across Asia over the past year, but this has been especially notable in locations which are heavily reliant on overseas visitors and residents, such as Thailand and Vietnam.”

Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.
LocationAverage rent 2021Average rent 2020
Hong Kong10 76911 318
Tokyo, Japan9 3179 207
Shanghai, China5 2225 363
Yokohama, Japan5 1685 090
Seoul, Korea Republic5 1074 931
Beijing, China4 5994 566
Osaka, Japan4 2784 254
Singapore4 2104 233
Taipei, Taiwan4 1013 656
Mumbai, India3 9804 403
Source : ECA International

Asia Highlights

Cities in Taiwan all rose in the rankings this year, as rental markets saw an increase – especially Taipei which climbed 20 places to 29th most expensive location worldwide. 

Quane said “Taiwan was one of the few locations in the APAC region to see significant rises in accommodation costs this year, with the average monthly rental cost in Taipei now standing at USD 4 101 – a rise of over 5% from last year. This growth was a knock-on effect of the nation’s success in mitigating the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, as well as repatriations of staff previously assigned to China and demand for talent in key industries in Taiwan which all resulted in increased demand, meaning that rents were able to stay consistent and even increase in many high-end areas.”

Meanwhile, Singapore fell one spot in the rankings to 26th position globally, as rents fell by an average of over 2%. The average monthly rent in Singapore is now USD 4 210 (SGD 5 747).

“Rent levels in Singapore are always notably stable and this year is no different, with only a slight dip in the rankings. However, this is a reversal of the increase in rental costs seen in 2019 and is likely the result of greater immigration restrictions for workers and other travellers to the city, thereby suppressing demand for all types of accommodation” explained Quane.

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