The cost of living in China’s major cities is now higher than in Hong Kong or Singapore, according to a survey of expatriate cost of living published this week by a global human resources consultancy.
The survey by ECA International ranks Shanghai second, and Beijing third among Asia Pacific’s most pricey places for foreigners to live, as the Chinese cities have surged up the list in recent years.
Just five years ago, Shanghai and Beijing were barely in the top 50 of ECA’s global ranking of cities, and now they rank 18th and 20th respectively. Within the region, the two Chinese mega-cities have overtaken all other locations except Tokyo, which was ranked first, and Seoul which came in second.
Hong Kong ranked 8th in the region this year, and 29th globally, helped along favorable changes in exchange rates. Both Guangzhou (34th) and Shenzhen (47th), have climbed more than 15 places in the global ranking, narrowing the gap with Hong Kong more quickly than a year ago.
In the past 12 months, Singapore has also risen four places in the global ranking of most expensive locations for expatriates, now ranking 31st globally, and ninth in Asia Pacific.
The ECA survey differs significantly from a report earlier this year by the Economist Intelligence Unit which ranked Singapore first globally. The EIU report was criticised by some observers for including the cost of buying a car, an item which is taxed heavily in the compact island nation where it is viewed as a luxury item.
For those of you looking for bargain living, the weakening of the Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit has meant that Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur have become cheaper for many expatriates. Bangkok fell 23 spots to 172nd position while Kuala Lumpur has fallen eight places to 194th place.
And if the price of pad Thai in Bangkok still has you counting your coins, Karachi (257th) in Pakistan remains the cheapest of the locations surveyed in Asia.