Tokyo remains expensive for expats


The latest instalment of an annual report reveals that Tokyo is still the most expensive city for expats to live and work in.

Each year the human resources organisation ECA International researches the costs of basic goods and services in 400 global locations. Despite Japan as a whole actually seeing a drop in average price, its capital city Tokyo retained its position as most expensive city in the world for expats to stay in, and several other Japanese cities, Kobe, Nagoya and Yokohama, also featured in the overall top ten.

Interestingly Singapore was the Asian country that saw the biggest leap in costs, now eclipsing Hong Kong. Singapore previously took the ninth place in the Asian table but now rising cost of living took it to sixth place, pushing its old rival Hong Kong into seventh.

Strong currencies have been attributed to the high costs, as Lee Quane from ECA International explains: “In some cases, strong currencies have contributed just as much as inflation to a country’s rise up the rankings. As well as Singapore, we have seen this happening in Ulaan Baatar, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur – these locations have risen by 23, 20 and 16 places respectively. Other locations have fallen in the ranking despite major increases in local prices. Hong Kong and Vietnam are examples of this – the weakening of their currencies has more than counterbalanced the impact of price inflation.”

ECA International have been evaluating expat costs since 2009. The goods and services included are everyday items such as food, clothing and toiletries.