Published July 8, 2009

Singapore is 10th most expensive city for expats

Mercer survey also lists S'pore as fifth most expensive in Asia-Pacific


SINGAPORE has become the 10th most expensive city in the world for expatriates, up three places from last year, says HR consultancy Mercer.

Singapore is also the fifth most expensive expat location in the Asia-Pacific, according to Mercer's 2009 cost of living survey.

Tokyo overtook Moscow as the most expensive city for expats, as the Japanese yen strengthened considerably against the US dollar.

The strong yen also lifted Osaka into second place, from 11th last year. Moscow slipped to third place but remained the most expensive European city.

The significant reshuffle of rankings is largely due to currency fluctuations and less to price movements.

For instance, the stronger US dollar makes it dearer for European-based companies to send expatriates to US cities.

It also explains why London dropped out of top 10 for the first time since 2001 - falling from third last year to 16th this year, while New York City rose to eighth, from 22nd last year.

Mercer senior researcher Nathalie Constantin-Metral said: 'Many currencies, including the euro and British pound, have weakened considerably against a strong US dollar, causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings.'

Middle Eastern cities rose in the rankings, mainly due to the United Arab Emirates dirham being fixed to the US dollar.

And the Chinese yuan's relatively strong performance lifted China's cities up the ranks. Beijing rose 11 spots to ninth place.

Ms Constantin-Metral said: 'The cost of expatriate programmes is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations and inflation rates.

'Now that cost containment and reduction is at the top of most company agendas, keeping track of the change in factors that dictate expatriate cost of living and housing allowances is essential.'

Mercer's survey is conducted annually to help multinational companies gauge expatriate pay packages.

The March 2009 survey covered 143 cities and more than 200 items, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment, in each city.

All cities are compared against New York, which is used as the benchmark. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.