Bangkok has dropped by 11 places to be in 34th position in the global Cost of Living rankings, as its tourism-dependent economy struggles to recover from the pandemic, according to the latest Cost of Living research published by ECA International.

In the face of a similar situation, the Vietnamese city of Hanoi has fallen by 20 places to be the 115th most expensive location in the world – falling out of the global top 100 altogether.

“Cities that had typically experienced high levels of tourism and overseas visitors before the Covid-19 pandemic have sunk in the rankings since the start of 2020, as their economies continue to take a hit from the heavy restrictions imposed around international travel.

These effects are reflected in the significantly weak baht and dong, as compared to the euro, as well as the low rental prices in properties primarily targeted at foreigners. As demand for these properties fall, Bangkok and Hanoi have thus seen rents drop over the past 18 months.”

Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International

Asia Highlights

  • Singapore is now the 13th most expensive location for expatriates globally, as the Singapore dollar weakens against the yuan.
  • Chinese cities make a strong showing as the country’s economy rebounds, with Guangzhou and Shanghai both among the global top ten
  • Traditional tourist havens Bangkok and Hanoi continue to fall in global rankings amidst heavy restrictions around international travel

Singapore has dropped by one place to be in the 13th position in the global Cost of Living rankings, but remains in the top ten most expensive locations for expatriates to live and work in Asia.

Quane said, “With prices in Singapore remaining stable over recent months, any changes in the costs for expatriates living and working in the country would be largely dependent on currency changes. Consequently, as the Singapore dollar has been weaker than the yuan in the last 12 months, this has caused Singapore to fall behind Shenzhen and Guangzhou in our global rankings.”

Elsewhere, Hong Kong has once again been named as the most expensive location in the world for expatriates to live and work in.

Quane said, “Despite falling rental prices and the Hong Kong dollar weakening against currencies such as the euro and yuan, the city has retained its spot as the most expensive location in the world for expatriates. While New York was a strong competitor to Hong Kong – having placed 2nd in last year’s global rankings – the struggling U.S. dollar allowed Hong Kong to retain its top spot among the global rankings, while bumping New York to 4th place.”

Meanwhile, the majority of Chinese cities rose in the latest rankings, with Guangzhou joining Shanghai in the global top ten for the first time. Shenzhen and Beijing are also placed among the top ten most expensive cities in Asia, and the top 20 globally.

Quane said, “The yuan enjoyed a strong year as the Chinese economy bounced back quickly from the pandemic, making most locations in the country more expensive for overseas workers as compared to previous years. The Pearl River Delta continues to be an attractive option for many international businesses, while Guangzhou and Shenzhen remain expensive for overseas workers due to high rental costs and the growing demand for property in these cities.”

Top ten most expensive locations for expatriates – Asia

Location2021 global ranking2020 global ranking
Hong Kong11
Tokyo, Japan23
Seoul, Korea Republic89
Shanghai, China910
Guangzhou, China1013
Yokohama, Japan1111
Shenzhen, China1215
Singapore1312
Beijing, China1618
Taipei, Taiwan2129
Top ten most expensive locations for expatriates in Asia

Top ten most expensive locations for expatriates – Global

Location2021 ranking2020 ranking
Hong Kong11
Tokyo, Japan23
Geneva, Switzerland34
New York, USA42
London, UK56
Zurich, Switzerland67
Tel Aviv, Israel75
Seoul, Korea Republic89
Shanghai, China910
Guangzhou, China1013

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