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Chinese cities becoming too costly for expats: survey
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Dec 12, 2012


Chinese cities now dominate the list of the most expensive places in Asia for expatriate residents due in part to a stronger local currency, a regional survey showed Wednesday.

Of the top 50 most expensive cities in the region, 16, or 32 percent, are from China, according to the survey by human resource firm ECA International.

Beijing is Asia's fifth most expensive city, coming after four Japanese cities and followed by Seoul. Last year Beijing was seventh.

Worldwide, the Chinese capital was in 22nd place, up from number 35.

Shanghai is Asia's seventh most expensive city, up a notch from last year. The financial centre is the 26th most expensive city worldwide, up sharply from number 41.

ECA carries out a survey twice a year by measuring a basket of common items purchased by expatriates in more than 400 locations globally, such as dairy produce, vegetables, clothing and meals out.

The survey does not include housing, utilities and car and school expenses as these items can make a significant difference to costs but are often compensated for in expatriate packages, ECA said.

ECA regional director Lee Quane said the cost of the basket of goods and services covered in the survey rose 5.0 percent this year in China, below the regional average of 6.5 percent but significantly higher than the 2.7 percent rise in Singapore.

"This, together with the fact that the renminbi (yuan) has strengthened against many currencies... is making Chinese locations increasingly expensive," Quane said in a statement.

"This could be stripping them of the competitive edge they once had over other locations in Asia as companies looking to set up in the region might think twice, now, about posting staff to China."

Hong Kong is Asia's ninth most expensive city, while other Chinese cities in the top 50 are Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Tianjin, Qingdao, Dalian, Chongqing, Suzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xiamen, Najing, and Xi'an.

Tokyo remains the costliest place for expatriates in Asia and worldwide, followed by Nagoya on both counts.

Oslo is the second most expensive city worldwide, trailed by the Angolan capital Luanda, a hardship post for expatriates.

Singapore is the eighth most expensive city in Asia, falling from sixth place last year, and is the 31st worldwide.

Bangkok is the 28th costliest city in Asia, followed by Kuala Lumpur at 29th. Metropolitan Manila is in 32nd place in Asia while Hanoi is the 36th most expensive in the region.

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