Expats still paying most in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has topped the ratings for the second year in a row as the most expensive city for expats to live in, according to the 2022 survey from ECA International.

cost of living expats
The global mobility company, which annually analyses the costs of consumer goods, services and accommodation in more than 400 locations worldwide, placed New York in second place and Geneva third in this year's rankings.

Lee Quane, Asian regional director at ECA International, attributed the high costs in Hong Kong to inflationary pressures and, particularly, to a stronger currency - which is tied to the dollar - over the past year.

“Although Hong Kong has been impacted by rising global inflation less than other regional and global locations in the past year, it nonetheless remains the most expensive location in the world," he said.

“Year-on-year price rises of 3%, as measured by our basket of goods and services, are higher than we typically see in Hong Kong, but are lower than rates in similar cities both within the region and globally.

"Rather, it has been the strength of the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar, in the past year that has enabled it to maintain its position as the most expensive location worldwide as other currencies have weakened."

Hong Kong continues to be the most expensive city for expats

Based on prices in March, ECA put the average cost of a cup of coffee in Hong Kong at $5.21, a litre of petrol at $3.04 and a kilo of tomatoes at $11.51.

New York rose to second place and London to fourth mainly as a result of double-digit increases in rental prices for accommodation. Fifth-placed Tokyo dropped down the table, along with other Japanese cities, as a result of the weakened yen.

On the other hand, the strengthening of the yuan saw Chinese cities rise throughout the table, with Shanghai and Guangzhou taking eighth and ninth positions respectively.

Most locations in the European Union recorded drops in the rankings as a result of a weakening of the euro, with Paris falling out of the global top 30. However, Geneva retained last year's third place and two other Swiss cities were in the top 20.

EU drops positions due to weaking of the euro

ECA commented: “Nearly every major eurozone city saw a drop in the rankings this year as the euro performed worse in the last 12 months than the US dollar and British pound.

"The euro’s weakness was mainly caused by market expectations of the ECB raising interest rates more slowly than its peers.”

This year's rankings, which assessed the costs in 207 cities worldwide, found Ankara in Turkey to be the cheapest location for expats.

The research found the effects of the war in Ukraine had seen petrol prices rise an average of 37% in the year to March (but by 1,128%in Beirut), although the price of a litre in Tehran stayed at just $0.09.

ECA International 20 most expensive cities for expats 2021 placings in brackets:
1. Hong Kong (1)
2. New York (4)
3. Geneva (3)
4. London (5)
5. Tokyo (2)
6. Tel Aviv (7)
7. Zurich (6)
8. Shanghai (9)
9. Guangzhou (10)
10. Seoul (8)
11. San Francisco (15)
12. Shenzhen (12)
13. Singapore (13)
14. Beijing (16)
15. Jerusalem (18)
16. Bern (17)
17. Yokohama (11)
18. Copenhagen (14)
19. Oslo (19)
20. Taipei (21)

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Read more news and views from David Sapsted in the Spring 2022 issue of Think Global People.

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