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Bangkok among Asia’s top 10 most expensive locations for expatriates

Bangkok ranks in 10th place with an average US$3,880 (Bt122,757) monthly rental cost for an unfurnished three-bedroom apartment.

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Hong Kong remains the most expensive location in the world for expatriate rent, with typical expat accommodation averaging USD 10 929 per month.

This was one of the findings of the latest research published by ECA International, the world’s leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

Rental prices for an unfurnished, mid-market, three-bedroom apartment in areas commonly inhabited by international executives in Hong Kong average USD 10 929 per month – an increase of 4.9% from last year.

Bangkok now a top 10 most expensive Asian location

A rise in average rental prices this year caused by an influx of expats from China and an increase in tourism traffic have hit expatriates and put the city in 10th place on the annual list, with an average US$3,880 (Bt122,757) monthly rental cost for an unfurnished three-bedroom apartment.

Bangkok no longer cheap for expatriates with an average US$3,880 (Bt122,757) monthly rental cost for an unfurnished three-bedroom apartment.

“Rents increased across Hong Kong during 2018 with limited availability of suitable accommodation, a long-term issue for the Hong Kong housing market, being the main driver”

“Rent increases are not just limited to central Hong Kong anymore either, with rents expected to rise throughout outlying neighbourhoods in 2019 too, as international firms seek more affordable office space and try to take advantage of cheaper suburbs.”

Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.

Asia Highlights

Rental costs in Tokyo rose by an even greater rate than Hong Kong, with typical expat accommodation now costing USD 8 668 per month on average. This is a rise of 6.9% and means that Tokyo is comfortably the second most expensive Asian location in ECA’s survey.

Rental costs in Tokyo rose by an even greater rate than Hong Kong, with typical expat accommodation now costing USD 8 668 per month

Quane said “While the Tokyo rental market has historically always been tight, 2018 saw a significant upturn in the rate of rent increases. An increase in tourism in recent years and the accompanying increase in landlords preferring to lease out accommodation on a short-term basis has contributed to rising costs in recent years.

With both the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics being hosted in Tokyo, we have seen a major surge in business interest in Japan’s capital. All of these factors will contribute to increasingly limited availability of suitable rental accommodation in Tokyo, with rent increases are expected to continue into 2019.”

Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.

In Singapore, rental prices have continued to fall for expatriates, with the average monthly rent now USD 4 215.

Quane explained “Reductions in the population of non-residents in Singapore, a key driver of rental demand, has led to further drops in rental prices for expatriates. Recent announcements in the Singapore budget have further limited the proportion of foreign workers that companies can employ to 35% by 2021, meaning that this downward trend in rents is expected to continue.”

Chinese cities endured a mixed fortune throughout 2018 with major rent increases seen in some locations, but static or decreasing levels of rent in others. 

Shanghai to expand global presence for real estate investment
Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city and the eighth most expensive city in the world

Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city and the eighth most expensive city in the world for expats to rent in, averaging USD 5 305 a month.

Quane said “With a new property tax mooted to be introduced in Shanghai from 2020, many landlords are now choosing to sell their properties rather than continuing to rent them out. This has led to a reduction in the availability of rented accommodation, prompting some rent increases.”

Similarly, Shenzhen saw a big rise in the average rent for overseas workers. Typical monthly rental costs in Shenzhen are now USD 2 795 – an increase of over 10%.

“Shenzhen continues to be a city that attracts high demand for rented accommodation, both due to its local economy and its proximity to Hong Kong. The market has proven particularly tight in 2018, leading to its high rental trend and this will most likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.

Macau saw a sharp increase in expatriate rental costs, with the average rising by USD 280 to USD 3 583.

Quane said “Macau’s property market dynamics are similar to Hong Kong, with high population density and high levels of competition for properties. Macau’s government has also recently introduced legislation providing greater protection for tenants. One effect of this legislation was a number of landlords withdrawing their properties from the market, restricting supply in an already tight market.”

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