Shifts in ranking in cost-of-living survey mainly due to currency movements
[SINGAPORE] The Republic has slipped one spot to become the ninth most expensive Asian city for expatriates, marking the first time since 2010 that it has fallen behind Hong Kong in eighth position.
ECA International, which undertakes this biannual cost-of-living survey, said this was largely due to the recent weakening of the Singapore dollar against the US dollar, to which the Hong Kong currency is pegged.
Its Asia regional director Lee Quane told The Business Times: "Singapore has been leapfrogged by Hong Kong mainly because of currency movements. We collect our data in local currency, but for the purposes of the rankings, we convert all prices to USD.
"Regionally, Singapore may be down one spot, but that doesn't indicate that prices have fallen. On the contrary, prices here have risen by about 3 per cent in comparison to the previous year."
Prices elsewhere - China and Hong Kong, for instance - were up one per cent over the year, but Mr Quane stressed that the Republic was "still considered competitive".
He pointed out that Singapore is still less expensive than Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul - major developed locations that compete with it for talent and for foreign investment.
"So Singapore does remain relatively competitive, I think."
Globally, Singapore inched up one place to become the 30th-most expensive location worldwide for expatriates.
Mr Quane said: "Again, this is all due to relative movements. Locations which were previously ranked as being more expensive than Singapore have now fallen in our rankings. The Australian dollar, for example, has depreciated against the USD by approximately 15 per cent, so places like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth have all fallen below Singapore this time."
The top three most expensive cities are Caracas, Luanda and Oslo, in that order; Manhattan was ranked 33rd.
The survey, conducted to help companies calculate the remuneration packages for employees being sent on overseas assignments, compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly bought by expatriates in 440 locations worldwide.
Since accommodation rentals, car purchases and school fees are typically compensated for in a separate benefits package, ECA International's survey does not take such items of expenditure into account.
Even if it does, Mr Quane said he does not think Singapore's regional ranking would shift substantially.
He expects Singapore to remain in the top 10 most expensive locations in the region in the years to come.
Source from Business Times