International Business & Economy For expats, life in Hong Kong is more expensive than in Singapore

For expats, life in Hong Kong is more expensive than in Singapore

Asian cities were in the top four most expensive cities to live in with Hong Kong topping the list




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Singapore—The good news is that it is cheaper to live in Singapore than in Hong Kong, if you’re an expat, that is. The bad news is that the little red dot is now the third most expensive place in the world for an expat to live, up one notch from last year.

Global consultancy Mercer released its annual Cost of Living Survey on June 26, Wednesday. It is the 25th such Mercer study, whose aim is to help governments and multinational companies compute the allowances necessary for their workers abroad.

Asian cities took all of the top four spots on the list, and eight of the top ten, including first place, went to Hong Kong. Following Hong Kong are Tokyo (2), Singapore (3), Seoul (4), Zurich (5), Shanghai (6), Ashgabat (7), Beijing (8), New York City (9), and Shenzhen (10).

The study said that “high costs for expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market” are the reasons why living in these Asian cities is so expensive.

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On the opposite end of the spectrum are Tunisia, ranked 209th, Tashkent, 208th, and Karachi, 207th.

The statement from Mercer says “this year’s ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.”

According to Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business, “In a skill-focused economy driven by digital disruption and the need for a globally connected workforce, deploying expatriate employees is an increasingly important aspect of a competitive business strategy for global companies.

There are numerous personal and organisational advantages for sending employees overseas, including career development, global experience, new skill sets, and re-allocation of resources. By offering fair and competitive compensation packages, organizations can facilitate moves that drive business results.”

It is essential for governments and companies to be aware of living costs because it’s “an important component of a city’s attractiveness for businesses. Decision makers increasingly acknowledge that globalisation is challenging cities to inform, innovate, and compete to foster the kind of satisfaction that attracts both people and investment – the keys to a city’s future,” said Yvonne Traber, Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader at Mercer.

Everyday costs in Hong Kong vs costs in Singapore

Singapore Business Review (SBR) compares the prices of certain everyday goods in Singapore and Hong Kong, to show how the cost of living is higher in the latter.

Coffee in Hong Kong costs S$9.48 per cup, while in Singapore it costs around S$6.77 a cup.

Gasoline in Hong Kong costs S$2.71 per liter, while in Singapore it costs S$2.17 per liter.

Men’s denim pants cost S$216 in Hong Kong, while in Singapore they cost around S$135.49.

A Big Mac meal, however, is marginally more expensive in Singapore than in Hong Kong.

According to Mercer’s global mobility practice leader for Asia, Middle East and Africa, Mario Ferraro, “Singapore remains an important regional and global hub for many multinational businesses, attracting top-level talent and sustained demand for high quality accommodation and quality goods and services. The demand for highly-skilled talent continues to increase within the region, driven by both foreign direct investment and rapid economic growth.”/ TISG

Read related: Survey reveals a 6% increase of expat pay packages in Singapore


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