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Asian cities not too expensive for expats, says new survey

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No Asian city ranks among the top ten most expensive cities for expatriates in the world in the latest survey conducted by London-based consultancy firm ECA International.

Caracas, Venezuela, which zooms 31 places from last year’s 32nd place ranking, tops the current Cost of Living index, followed by Oslo, Norway and Luanda, Angola, which are in second and third places, respectively.

The crime-ridden Venezuelan city’s high position was due to high inflation rate and the official exchange rate at VEF6.30 to USD1.00, making its cost of living 40 percent higher than in the runner-up city. Consumer prices also soared 59 percent in Venezuela, Bloomberg reported.

The world’s smartest city per the Cities in Motion Index, Tokyo still ranks as the most expensive city for expatriates in Asia despite dropping out of the top ten in ECA’s report. Now in 11th place overall, the Japanese city leads Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Nagoya, Yokohama, Osaka, Hong Kong, Singapore and Guangzhou, in the Asian top ten.

ECA International_Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong currently ranks 29th worldwide in the annual ECA survey and overtakes Singapore, which was recently named the world’s priciest city in another survey released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EUI ranking was determined based on prices of services and products in comparison with New York City’s cost of living. Jon Copestake, a retail and consumer goods analyst at EIU, told The Wall Street Journal this week that it was normal for survey findings to give varying results.

Singapore prices in the last 12 months increased by 2.3 percent, which is a “relatively low rise”, according to the latest ECA report.

“While price increases of items in our basket are now just over 2 percent in Singapore, this is still a long way off the 6 percent increases we observed a couple of years ago,” Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International, told Singapore-based Channel News Asia.

Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, meanwhile, surge into the top 20 overall as the cost of living for expats in China increased despite the slight slowdown of the Chinese currency against the euro and British pound.