Asia now the most expensive continent for expats

Asia now the most expensive continent for expats

Asia now the most expensive continent for expats

Whilst formerly top expat destinations fade due to currency woes, economic instability and anti-foreigner sentiment, Asia is the place to head for if you’re earning top dollar as you’ll need it just to get by.

Once known as the world’s bargain basement for cost of living as well as quality of life, Asia as a whole is now becoming Westernised on the surface as well as far more expensive as an expat destination. Using New York City’s cost of living as a benchmark and taking into account a few wants as well as needs, the Mercer survey bases its results on 200 essential expat expenses ranging from accommodation through food, clothing and transportation to entertainment. This year’s results were something of a surprise, as a good few of the usual suspects were overtaken by a number of Asian cities.

In 10th place was the Chinese city of Shenzhen, now a hub for investment and seeing expat professionals flock to its new-build high rise blocks demanding high quality accommodation, services and goods to match. Beijing beat out Shenzhen and took eighth place, with its price structure rising along with the expectations of incoming expats, forcing major employers to pay more for top-of-the range professionals. Shanghai came in as the sixth most expensive city for expats, but despite its high living costs it seems the Chinese capital is a magnet for overseas companies and their extremely well paid foreign executives and managers. It’s no surprise that Hong Kong is still the planet’s most expensive expatriate destination, with high quality accommodation and all the trimmings necessary for the perfect life overseas.

Getting away from China, the third most expensive world city comes as no surprise, as Singapore’s been heading in that direction for a decade or so. The city-state has its expat devotees, but it’s not the exciting, inexpensive shopping and dining haven of yesteryear. In spot number four is Seoul, once a desert for expats but now shaping up to be a firm favourite in spite of increasing tensions on the peninsula. Perhaps the strangest city in the top ten is one most expats haven’t even heard of - Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat. It’s in at number seven, but its high rating is due only to huge rises in the price of imported goods as a result of a major shortage of currency!

The only European city to have made it to the top ten is, unsurprisingly, Zurich, with the only reasons why it’s pricey at present being the strong dollar, Brexit unease and the possible escalation of he USA/China trade war. For expats who know the city well, it’s always been expensive. Another non-surprise is Tokyo’s placing as the second most expensive world capital, with the cause as usual the eye-watering price of suitable accommodation in the massive city. Excluding rentals, its actual cost of living could be considered as reasonable. The only USA city in the top ten is, again unsurprisingly, New York at 9th position, bouncing along buoyed up by the strong dollar and still popular as a reassignment destination despite vicious rumours of an impending recession.

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