SINGAPORE (Dec 17): Singapore is once again the world’s top 20 most expensive locations for expatriate workers, with the city state taking its spot at 18th globally and 9th within Asia, according to the latest Cost of Living survey published by ECA International.

Last year, Singapore was ranked 21st most expensive city in the world for expats, dropping from 16th in 2016. But its 9th position within the region has remained unchanged since 2016.

“The Singapore dollar has performed strongly this year, resulting in a slight rise in Singapore’s rankings, up three places to become the 18th most expensive location in the world,” says Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia for ECA International. “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.”

On the other hand, Hong Kong is ranked sixth most expensive location for expats in the world and the second most expensive in Asia.

“2018 was another strong year for the Hong Kong dollar, resulting in Hong Kong’s rise from ninth place last year to sixth, leapfrogging locations such as Tokyo and Oslo where the currencies have been slightly weaker,” says Quane.

Elsewhere in China, all 14 cities surveyed by ECA remained in the global top 50, with Shanghai leading as the 14th most expensive location in the world.

“Developing Chinese cities such as Dalian, Chengdu and Nanjing are now firmly established in the global top 50 alongside Beijing and Shanghai, and it is likely that they will remain expensive destinations for mobile employees in the foreseeable future,” says Quane.

Globally, Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan, has taken the top spot as the most expensive city in the world for expats. It jumped from 146th in 2017 to now the most expensive city amid a deepening economic crisis.

“A plunging black market exchange rate and foreign exchange shortages have stoked levels of inflation in Turkmenistan and have led the prices of goods to increase significantly over the past 12 months. A shortage of goods and hard currency means that it is now much more expensive for expatriate workers in Ashgabat to purchase the items and services that they normally would,” adds Quane.