Thailand, Singapore are getting more expensive for expats
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Thailand, Singapore are getting more expensive for expats

THAILAND and Singapore were among the biggest risers in a recent survey of most expensive locations in the world for expatriates.

Multinational human resource consultants ECA International, in its recently released Cost of Living survey, revealed that Thailand rose 32 places this year to enter the top 100 most expensive locations for the first time.

ECA International Regional Director Lee Quane said over the past five years, the Thai capital Bangkok has climbed more than 80 places to 90th place in the company’s cost of living rankings.

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“The Thai baht has strengthened in recent years, as the economy has expanded and the political landscape has stabilised,” Quane said in the report.

“This means that Thai locations are now significantly more expensive for expat workers than they have been in the past.”

ECA, which has been conducting research into cost of living for more than four decades, carries out two main surveys on the expatriates per year.

The surveys were meant to help employers calculate cost of living allowances so that their employees’ spending power is not compromised while on international assignment, comparing “a basket of like-for-like” consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in over 450 locations worldwide.


Thailand’s flag is posted on a suburban train station surrounded by high rise buildings in central Bangkok on Dec 1, 2018.

“Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances. Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA’s cost of living basket,” the report pointed out.

The report also highlighted Singapore as 18th most expensive location in the world for expatriates, after dropping out of top 20 in 2017, while Hong Kong is 2nd most expensive location in Asia, behind only Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and sixth most expensive globally.

Seoul was found to be the third most expensive Asian city, while Tokyo dropped to fourth place.

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RCA noted in 2017, Singapore was the 21st most expensive city in the world for expatriates, up from 16th in 2016. For the past two years, the city-state has remained in 9th position within Asia.

“The Singapore dollar has performed strongly this year, resulting in a slight rise in Singapore’s rankings, up 3 places to become the 18th most expensive location in the world,” Quane said.

“Singapore has long been considered one of the most expensive cities for expats to live and work in and this looks set to continue. However, the cost of living is still below that of other Asian locations with large expatriate populations such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai.”

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