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Hong Kong ranked 6th most expensive city for expats to live in
Published on: 2018-12-26
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Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in Asia for expats according to the latest ECA International surveryThe strengthening Hong Kong dollar has catapulted the city up to sixth on the list of the world’s most costly destinations for expats, up from No 9 last year, according to a biannual survey released on Monday.

Rival Singapore also jumped three places, to 18 from 21, because of a strong currency.

050Polling 450 locations worldwide every March and September, human capital firm ECA International found currency exchanges were the main factor behind a jump in the rankings for a few Asian locations.

ECA regional director Lee Quane said that “2018 was another strong year for the Hong Kong dollar … leapfrogging locations such as Tokyo and Oslo where the respective currencies have been slightly weaker”.

The world’s most expensive place is Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, which rocketed from 146th last year as a deepening economic crisis left black-market exchange rates plummeting and shortages in foreign exchange. This in turn fuelled inflation.

051In Hong Kong, the local currency is getting stronger due to its peg with the US dollar. Since April 1, the Hong Kong dollar has gained 15 per cent against the Japanese yen, 10 per cent against both the Norwegian krone and Chinese yuan, and almost 6 per cent against the Singapore dollar.

This means living in Hong Kong is even more expensive than Scandinavian cities such as Oslo and Stavanger.

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

052The cost of living in Shanghai fell to No 14 from No 12 last year, but it remained the most expensive city in mainland China.

The ECA survey takes the cost of food, household goods, recreational goods and services, clothing, electrical goods, motoring, meals out and alcohol and tobacco into account.

It does not take into consideration rent, car purchases or school fees.

Singaporean Terence Yap, CEO of security firm Guardforce, said the cost of living in the city state was rising, but it was still cheaper than that of Hong Kong.

053“Housing is one of the challenges in Hong Kong, but in Singapore, housing is guaranteed by the government,” said Yap, who has worked in Hong Kong for about two decades.

“For many people, a major portion of their monthly salary goes to housing.”

In Singapore, Yap found that a typical dish of Hainan chicken rice or Char Kway Teow fried noodles cost S$5 (US$3.63) at a food hawker centre, up from about S$2 some years ago.

054However, Hainan chicken rice with a hot drink in Hong Kong cost about HK$50 (US$6.40) in a traditional cha chaan teng restaurant.

“Cha chaan teng normally offer good deals,” Yap said. “For expats in Hong Kong, education costs for children are a big problem.”

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