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Thread: S'pore is 5th most expensive city for expats in Asia: survey

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    Default S'pore is 5th most expensive city for expats in Asia: survey

    Published June 19, 2007

    S'pore is 5th most expensive city for expats in Asia: survey

    By LIN ZHAOWEI


    (SINGAPORE) Singapore is now the fifth most expensive city for expatriates in Asia and 14th most expensive in the world, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's latest Cost of Living Survey.

    The survey covered 143 cities across six continents and measured the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

    Rebecca Powers, principal and senior consultant at Mercer, said: 'There have been some significant changes in the ranking since last year. These are primarily due to exchange rate fluctuations - in particular the weakening of the US dollar and the strengthening of the euro.'

    In Singapore, sharp increases in property prices have contributed to the city moving one notch up the Asian ranking, overtaking Beijing (20th globally).

    The cost of accommodation of international standards has also pushed Indian cities up the rankings. Mumbai (52nd globally) moved into the Asian top 10 from 14th place last year.

    Shenzhen also made it to the top 10 this time, squeezing out Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

    However, with the exception of Singapore and Indian cities, Asian cities have dropped in the global rankings. Although Asia dominated the top five positions, with Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong coming in respectively at third, fourth and fifth positions globally, each of them has dropped by a notch.

    In total, there are now only eight Asian cities in the global top 50, as compared to 12 a year ago.

    Chinese cities fell in the global rankings due to depreciation of the yuan against the euro, low inflation and stable property rentals. The report said that accommodation costs have not escalated, because despite the increasing demand for housing, supply of high-quality rentals was sufficient.

    Moscow is the world's most expensive city for expatriates for the second year running, due to the appreciation of the Russian rouble against the US dollar and increasing accommodation costs.

    London leapfrogged the top three Asian cities to take second spot, on the back of steep property rental costs and the strengthening of the pound against the US dollar.

    New York was the priciest North American city again this year, but its ranking fell from 10th to 15th. Los Angeles, coming in at 42, was the only other North American city to rank in the global top 50.

    Ms Powers said: 'The decline of most US cities in the ranking can be attributed to the depreciation of the US dollar against the euro and other major currencies worldwide. The change reflects a reversal of the situation experienced this time last year, when the majority of US cities climbed the ranking due to the strength of the dollar.'

    The appreciation of the euro has resulted in some European cities moving up the rankings. Notably, Stockholm rose from 36th to 23rd, while Amsterdam moved from 41st to 25th.

    In Latin America, Sao Paulo (62nd) and Rio de Janeiro (64th) remain the most costly. Asuncion in Paraguay is the least expensive among those surveyed for the fifth year running.


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    Default Re: S'pore is 5th most expensive city for expats in Asia: survey

    June 19, 2007

    S'pore rises to 14th spot in ranking of costliest expat cities

    By Arthur Poon


    FAST-RISING housing costs have pushed Singapore three places up to 14th spot in an annual global survey of the cost of living for expatriate workers.

    This places the Republic's cost of living for expats over that of New York, Beijing and Istanbul in the survey of global cities.

    Moscow is the most expensive city for expats for the second straight year, ahead of London and the Asian trio of Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

    The survey - which covers 143 cities and measures the cost of 200 items in each location, including transport, food and entertainment - is used to help multinational firms determine compensation allowances for their expatriate staff.

    The rise in Singapore's ranking has prompted concerns among human resource consultants that the cost of hiring expats here is higher.

    But the survey, conducted by Mercer Human Resource, also found that despite recent hikes, rents in Singapore are still relatively low.

    Mercer figures showed that the rent of an upmarket two- bedroom unfurnished apartment costs US$2,946 a month here (S$4,530), compared with US$7,038 in Hong Kong and US$3,485 in Shanghai.

    According to Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm People Worldwide Consulting, the overall cost of living here is still comparably low given Singapore's infrastructural efficiency and social stability.

    Mercer said the 'sharp increases in house prices' and the knock-on effect on rentals was the main reason for the jump.

    Indeed, human resource consultants said expats here have been badly hit after rentals here rose 25 per cent to 35 per cent in the last 12 months.

    Mercer Human Resource Consulting director Mr Fermin Diez said some of his multinational clients are concerned that the rise in housing costs will affect bottom-lines.

    Rental cost is about 25 per cent of the total cost of an expat. So with rental costs going up by 25 per cent to 35 per cent, the total cost of an expat can rise 4 per cent to 9 per cent, Mr Diez said.

    He cited an example of a firm with 120 expats here whose overall cost rose by over $1 million.

    Some companies have offered to cover their expats' rent rises, Mr Diez said, and more firms will do so in the coming months as their expats renew their rental contracts.

    But expats on local packages may experience a difficult time if there is a need to downgrade to lower rental properties, said Ms Rosa Goh, country manager of Manpower Singapore.

    Australian Matthew Shaw, a business consultant who has worked here for six years, said housing allowances have not kept pace with rentals.

    He said one of his associates had her housing allowance upped from $3,500 to $4,000 and had to pay $500 out of her own pocket after her landlord raised the rent to $4,500 a month.

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    Default Re: S'pore is 5th most expensive city for expats in Asia: survey

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Not cheap, a Singapore stint

    Singapore more expensive to live in than New York; fifth most costly in Asia: Survey

    Christie Loh
    [email protected]


    THE by-product of a long-running economic boom has inevitably materialised.

    For the fourth straight year, a comprehensive survey shows Singapore scaling the ladder of expensive cities, raising concerns about whether rising costs will start to put off businesses and foreign talent.

    On a global scale, the Republic has overtaken New York to become the 14th most expensive city, up from 17th last year. Asia-wide, Singapore moved up a notch to fifth place behind Osaka, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

    Pushing the island up the rungs were housing rental hikes, higher transport costs and costlier groceries, said Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which yesterday released the annual Worldwide Cost of Living Survey of 143 cities.

    The results are of interest to multinational companies and governments, which buy the reports to determine compensation allowances for their expatriate staff.

    Already, some foreign investors here are having second thoughts.

    "We have heard of at least one case where the company plans to staff a particular Asia-wide role in Hong Kong instead of in Singapore, given the difference in costs under new rents," Mr Fermin Diez, Mercer's worldwide partner and market development director for Asia-Pacific, told Today.

    Several of his multinational corporation (MNC) clients have also started worrying about the burden on current expatriate staff here and the impact on profitability.

    As leases run out, "everyone balks at the rapid rise in rental", said Mr Diez.

    Overall private home rents surged 14.1 per cent last year from 2005, official figures showed, but landlords in prime areas have reportedly asked for as much as 50 per cent more.

    Some MNCs are now providing their expatriate employees with extra funds to cover their rental differentials, he said.

    Meanwhile, other Asian capitals may look more alluring.

    Mercer's survey shows that all cities in this region slid down the table, except Singapore and Indian cities. This trend was part of a major reshuffle in the 2007 rankings, due mainly to the weakening US dollar and the stronger Euro, explained Mercer.

    While Moscow remained the most expensive city for the second consecutive year, several European capitals such as London, Paris, and Copenhagen have moved closer to the top.

    Mercer compared the cost of some 200 items including transport, food, clothing and entertainment.

    Expats paid in US dollars whose value slumped to the lowest since 1997 last year would have less spending power in, say, Singapore, where the currency has strengthened.

    And even though cities say in China may be cheaper, some are often viewed by expats as "hardship postings", said Credit Suisse First Boston economist Sailesh Jha, an American citizen living here for the past five years. Pollution, for instance, is causing some expats to move out of Hong Kong.

    Since 2004, Singapore has gone from 46th place on the Mercer survey to 34th, then 17th, and this year 14th. The ascent mirrors the economy's steady recovery from the 2003 Sars crisis to the present good times of perkier wages and bigger profits.

    But although the horizon looks clear for Singapore over the next 12 to 24 months, it remains to be seen if the rosy picture would stay intact three to five years down the road.

    "For any company wishing to expand in Asia, it'll need to measure costs of relocation versus strategic value in nurturing growth of the company," said Mr Diez.

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