*drumroll* Hong Kong! So if you’re planning to work in Hong Kong as an expatriate, you might want to think twice before agree to whatever job your company offers.
An annual report by global consultancy firm Mercer has declared Hong Kong the world’s most expensive city for expatriates to live in. The survey of 209 cities took into account the cost of scores of items in each destination, including housing, food and entertainment.
Mercer found that an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood of Hong Kong rented for over $6,800 a month, compared to roughly $4,600 in London and just $4,000 in Tokyo. A cup of coffee cost nearly $8 in Hong Kong — twice as much as London ($4.40) and Tokyo ($4.00) respectively. Other cost of living factors in Hong Kong also contributed, such as the high price of imported goods and clothing. There, a pair of jeans costs an average of $128, the third highest price among the top 10 countries surveyed.
Mercer’s Global Mobility Leader for ASEA, Mario Ferraro, said that although currency fluctuations had played a large part in this year’s rankings, many local currencies in fact became more expensive against the U.S. dollar during the survey period. “Hong Kong is so expensive primarily due to accommodation costs but also because the dollar there has remained fairly stable as opposed to other currencies that devalued against the U.S. dollar to various degrees,” he said.
The survey ranks the cost of living for expatriates in more than 375 cities around the world, using the U.S. dollar cost for a weighted basket of goods. Of this basket – which includes things like the cost eating out at restaurants, eating at home, clothes, personal care items and electrical appliances – accommodation continued to be the main factor that made expat living expensive in all countries outside of the U.S. “If you look at the top 10, eight were already there last year, so there were no major changes, but there is not one single American city in there,” said Ferraro.
Making up the rest of the world’s top five costliest places to live were the Angolan capital Luanda, Switzerland’s Zurich and Hong Kong’s fellow Asian metropolises Singapore and Tokyo. They were followed by Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which broke into the top 10 for the first time. Shanghai, Geneva, Chad’s capital N’Djamena and Beijing completed the upper tier.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, was also deemed the world’s least affordable city in a survey in January. However, while Hong Kong may be a pretty pricey place for expats, our neighbour Singapore is still the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living survey in March this year. That makes it the third year in a row, by the way.
Living in Singapore can be quite expensive, so why not find some nice property in Malaysia to invest for your retirement instead? After all, Malaysia is ranked within the top 5 of most retiree-friendly countries for American expatriates!