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Singapore 5th most costly city for expats

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Despite European and African cities dominating the world’s most expensive locations for expatriate employees, Singapore holds its ground in the fifth spot.

According to the latest Mercer 2013 Cost of Living Survey, the top spot is taking by Luanda, Angola, followed by Moscow, Russia in second place, and Tokyo, Japan in third.

Singapore comes in at fifth place just behind Ndjamena in Chad.

The Cost of Living Survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for expatriate employees.

The rankings measure the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food and entertainment.

For example, the survey found Luanda to have the highest rental cost for a two-bedroom apartment (unfurnished) at USD$6,500 per month ($S8,221) – much higher than Singapore’s average of USD$3,974.94 (S$5,072)

As well as comparing big ticket items, the survey also compares smaller daily costs such as the average price of a cup of coffee or a pair of blue jeans.

In Singapore, you can buy a cup of coffee for around USD$4.84 (S$6.12), but in Tokyo you will pay USD$6.98 (S$8.82) and in Moscow you can pay USD$8.29 (S$10.48)

“Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices have impacted these cities making them expensive,” Barb Marder, senior partner and Mercer’s global mobility practice leader, said.

“Despite being one of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is a relatively poor country yet expensive for expatriates since imported goods can be costly. In addition, finding secure living accommodations can be challenging and quite costly.”

The other cities appearing in Mercer’s list of top 10 costliest cities for expatriates are Hong Kong, Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

The top 10 costliest cities for expatriates

  1. Luanda, Angola
  2. Moscow, Russia
  3. Tokyo, Japan
  4. Ndjamena, Chad
  5. Singapore, Singapore
  6. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  7. Geneva, Switzerland
  8. Zurich, Switzerland
  9. Bern, Switzerland
  10. Sydney, Australia


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