Singapore falls out of the global top 20 ranking for the most expensive locations for expatriates, coming in as the 24th most costliest country. This is a steep decline from its 18th position in 2016.

According to ECA International’s latest Cost of Living survey, regional director of ECA International, Lee Quane said: “Prices have risen in Singapore since our last survey. Therefore, in local currency terms expatriates in Singapore will clearly have felt an increase in their cost of living in the past one year.” However, due to the depreciation of the Singapore dollar against other currencies, the cost of living in Singapore is still cheaper in comparison to other locations, he added.

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On the other hand, Malaysian cities have also fallen out of the global top 200, with Kuala Lumpur falling by 15 places to 212th position, George Town and Johor Bahru descending by 10 places in the global rankings to 245th and 250th respectively – out of the 262 ranked locations.

Quane cited the continued weakness of the Malaysian ringgit as the reason behind Kuala Lumpur’s drop in rankings and Johor Bahru’s decline was due to its reputation as one of the cheapest locations in the region. “Cities in Malaysia continue to rank amongst those with the lowest cost of living for international assignees in the world, and have even become marginally cheaper over the past five years,” Quane shared.

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On the other side of the spectrum, Hong Kong clinches the top position as the most expensive location for expatriates regionally, and comes in second on a global scale. “Hong Kong has continued to get more expensive for expatriates. Over the past few years, the HK dollar has appreciated against most major currencies,” Quane said.

Here’s a list of the regional and global rankings obtained by APAC countries:

Hong Kong

Regional: 1st Global: 2nd


Regional: 10th Global: 24th


Kuala Lumpur Regional: 53th Global: 212th

George Town Regional: 61st Global: 245th


Shanghai Regional: 4th Global: 13th

Beijing Regional: 8th Global: 20th

Macau Regional: 11th Global: 25th

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