Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Singapore eighth most costly city in Asia for expats
Johnson Choo

Singapore is the eighth most costly city in which to rent an apartment in Asia, according to a survey by ECA International.

Rentals for a three-bedroom apartment increased 15 per cent in 2006 compared to that of a year ago. This still puts Singapore behind other Asian cities like Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing and Shanghai.

A three-room rental unit in an area popular with expatriates in Singapore would have cost US$3,365 ($5,156) a month last year, compared to US$2,915 in 2005.

While many expats have cried foul in the past few months over the "crazy" rental increases, experts explained rates had been suppressed over the past 10 years due to the economic downturn and, partly, to an over-supply of high-end properties.

ECA International Hong Kong's general manager Lee Quane said: "The demand for high-end accommodation has risen, driving up rental prices, which can be partly explained by companies expanding their operations in Singapore together with government initiatives to attract skilled workers from overseas."

Although rising, rentals in Singapore are still a good 150 per cent cheaper than those of Hong Kong, and 120 per cent cheaper than Tokyo's.

According to a Citigroup report, rental rates for residential properties are expected to rise by some 40 per cent this year, riding on a high occupancy rate of 95.7 per cent, if recent en-bloc sales are taken into account. This is expected to go up to 97 per cent over the next two years, even with no new en-bloc sales.

costly rentals

1 Hong Kong

2 Tokyo

3 Seoul

4 Mumbai

5 Shanghai

6 Beijing

7 Ho Chi Minh City

8 Singapore