Most Expensive Cities for Expats in Asia

Shanghai skyline, expensive city

A ranking of Asia’s most expensive cities saw Shanghai claim the top spot, beating out former title holder Seoul. The survey was conducted by ECA International in mid-2015, and gives a good idea of the Asia financial landscape, for those looking to expatriate.

Asia’s most expensive cities were ranked as follows:

  • Shanghai
  • Beijing
  • Seoul
  • Hong Kong
  • Guangzhou

The remainder of the top 10 was populated by a diverse group of cities, with Busan, Tokyo, Shenzhen, Singapore and Port Moresby ranking in sixth through tenth place respectively.

ECA International representative Peter Schiff told reporters that “it is possible to buy many items cheaply in China. However, when comparing cost of living for the purposes of expatriate packages, we look at internationally recognized quality brands.”

In recent years, Schiff says that the cost of international quality brands has risen steadily, buffeted by a stronger renminbi, which also spikes costs for companies sending staff into China.

ECA’s calculation of costs was based on a selection of daily goods, such as food, household goods, leisure services, clothing, restaurant meals, alcohol and tobacco.

The biggest surprise on the list was Tokyo’s fall from the top spot. Japan’s capital was the most expensive city a year ago and ranked #2 in the previous report.

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy developments has been Tokyo’s slide down the ranking over the past year. The capital of Japan topped the charts a year ago, and held the second spot in December.