The average monthly rental for expatriates in Singapore rose 1.4% from last year to $6,069 (US$4,233) – its first increase in five years, showed a study by ECA International.

ECA International’s Regional Director for Asia Lee Quane attributed the uptick to an influx of overseas relocation, particularly by expats coming in from Hong Kong.

“The last 12 months have seen increases in overseas relocation to Singapore, especially in the fintech and pharmaceutical sectors,” he said.

“There was also evidence that expatriate populations were moving from Hong Kong to the relative stability of Singapore, thus increasing the demand for housing, although tighter restrictions on work permits for overseas workers have now counteracted this somewhat.”

He noted that Singapore remains the ninth most expensive destination in Asia for overall rental cost.

Hong Kong continued to be the world’s most expensive location for expat accommodation for the third consecutive year, albeit the city is expected to witness drops throughout 2020.

“Hong Kong has the most expensive rents due to a number of factors such as the high population density of the territory and limited opportunities to build new homes, which combine to drive rental costs upwards,” explained Quane.

“However, in light of the prolonged anti-government protests and Coronavirus outbreak currently underway, we expect to see rents fall throughout 2020 as the number of overseas workers in Hong Kong drops significantly and the usually high demand for housing is tempered.”

Tokyo nestled on third spot with average monthly rental costs at $13,194 (US$9,207). Yokohama and Osaka came in at seventh and eighth place, respectively, reported Singapore Business Review.

Cities in China posted varying rental trends in the past year, with Shanghai emerging as the third costliest city in Asia with monthly rent up to $7,684 (US$5,363). While Beijing’s expatriate accommodation costs were fairly static, with the capital city sitting in 19th place globally, other cities witnessed huge increases in the average rent. Shenzen recorded the biggest increase of 7.22%.

Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, was another city that recorded a steep hike in rent from last year at 5.29%, bringing the city in the top 50 most expensive destinations in the world.

“The rent increases seen in Taipei are down to two main factors. Firstly, expatriate numbers increased in the city due to the award of government contracts for a major offshore wind power project. Secondly, after years of unsustainable rises to property sales prices in Taipei, competition for rentals has increased as many local nationals continue to rent in anticipation of future drops in the housing market.”

Also included in Asia’s top 10 list were Seoul at fifth place, Mumbai at seventh and Bangkok at tenth place.

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