Singapore ranked 3rd for world’s most expensive city for expats

Fiona Ho28 Jun 2019

Merlion Singapore

Singapore emerged as the world’s third costliest city for expats to live in, up from fourth place last year, on the back of rising affluence and sustained demand in quality housing, Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey found. 

Hong Kong continued to top the ranking, followed by Tokyo. Completing the top five list are Seoul and Zurich.

Mercer noted that while the study is denominated in US dollars, currency fluctuation was not a factor for Singapore.

And despite the high-cost of living, many organisations continue to see a strong business rationale for moving talent to the city-state, said Mario Ferraro, global mobility practice leader for Asia, Middle East and Africa at Mercer.

“Singapore remains an important regional and global hub for many multinational businesses, attracting top-level talent and sustained demand for high-quality accommodation and quality goods and services. The demand for highly-skilled talent continues to increase within the region, driven by both foreign direct investment and rapid economic growth.”

Meanwhile, eight of the top 10 most expensive cities are found in Asia.

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Mercer attributed Asia’s domination of the top ten list to the region’s dynamic housing markets and high cost of consumer goods.

The world’s cheapest place for expat living, on the other hand, is Tunis in Tunisia, which switched places with Uzbekistan’s Tashken, last year’s cheapest city.

The global consultancy firm revealed that more large firms are moving staff abroad as they adapt to new technology and change.

In fact, Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report showed that around 65 percent of employers across all countries and industries use mobility programs in order to enhance their workforce strategies.

Fiona Ho, Digital Content Manager at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories, email


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