TOKYO has dethroned Hong Kong as the most expensive city in Asia for overseas workers, according to a survey released last month.
The ECA International Cost of Living Ranking data showed that within the space of 12 months, Hong Kong fell from the second most expensive place on the planet for expatriates to 11th – largely because of a depreciating Hong Kong dollar.
“Although the price of goods has continued to rise in Hong Kong in the past 12 months, the Hong Kong dollar has weakened over the same period of time” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.
“This has meant that Hong Kong has fallen behind Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai in the rankings”.
Tokyo is now the least affordable city in Asia for expats, and the seventh most expensive city worldwide.
“It is only the yen’s relative strength against the US dollar that has seen the Japanese capital has become the most expensive place in Asia for foreigners to live and work at Hong Kong’s expense,” Quane said.
“It has been a similar theme in Seoul, which is also now above Hong Kong in the rankings, despite remaining in eighth place globally.”
ECA’s ranking considers the cost of commonly purchased items, including a litre of petrol, a cinema ticket, a cup of coffee, and a beer at a bar.
Shifting exchange rates had largely been responsible for movements in the ranking since 2017, said the company.
“Rates of price increases throughout most of the major locations in Asia researched has been quite low,” Quane said.
“Currency movements, on the other hand have been quite volatile with several emerging market currencies strengthening against the US dollar in the last year.”
Like Hong Kong, the Taiwanese cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung saw a fall in the cost of living, dropping out of the top 30 and 40 most expensive places, respectively.
Mainland Chinese cities, however, moved up the rankings, with Shanghai overtaking Hong Kong into 10th spot overall. “The stronger yuan pushed all locations up in our rankings,” explained Quane.
Singapore moved up the rankings from 24th place to now being listed at 20th most expensive in the world.