Japan’s Cost of Living Remains the Highest in Asia

Expatriates who are based in Japan continue to face a high cost of living as a result of sharp rises in the value of the yen a global survey revealed last week.

According to ECA, an international human resource firm, cities within Japan took the four highest spots on a list of the most expensive places to live in Asia; these being Tokyo, Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe.

The increases in the cost of living that expatriates in Japan have endured were largely attributed to increases of approximately 20% in the value of the yen against the US dollar over the last twelve months, meaning that expatriates who are paid in USD are facing significant differences in the local value of their income. Discussing the situation that expatriates in Japan are currently in, Lee Quane, ECA International’s regional director commented: “It is not because prices have risen in Japan, they are still benign.

“Although we had a tsunami and the impact on the supply chain, that has had very little knock-on effect on the price that people pay in the supermarkets.

“Expatriates who are paid in yen won’t feel much difference but for those who are paid in other currencies such as the US dollar, they will be the ones who are most affected.”

Elsewhere Singapore was revealed to be a more expensive destination than Hong Kong with ECA’s survey placing them two places higher on the list than they were the previous year. Hong Kong meanwhile, has fallen in the list of most expensive places to live and now ranks lower than both Beijing and Shanghai in terms of cost of living.

“While such increases are unlikely to deter companies from relocating staff to Singapore, it does mean that costs of sending staff to Singapore will rise,” Quane said in a statement.

“This may erode some of the cost advantages that Singapore previously had over other destinations in the region in terms of the cost of relocating an employee,” he added.

Discussing Singapore’s current placing in ECA’s list of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live, Chow Penn Nee, an economist at United Overseas Bank, commented that despite the high cost of living she believed that Singapore retains several advantages over Hong Kong and other Asian cities and for this reason expatriate and investors continue to be attracted to the city: “Cost is definitely a factor, with corporations saying that costs of living and rents are going up. But by and large Singapore has certain strengths over Hong Kong such as the environment, language skills and educational levels,” she said.

Top Ten Most Expensive Cities in Asia

  1. Tokyo
  2. Nagoya
  3. Yokohama
  4. Kobe
  5. Seoul
  6. Singapore
  7. Beijing
  8. Shanghai
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Busan

About the Survey

ECA International’s cost of living survey is conducted twice a year in the months of March and September. The cost of living in over 400 major cities throughout the world is measured via analyzing the cost of a basket of goods, such as dairy produce, vegetables, clothing and dining out and comparing them across each city, with New York being use as the base. The survey does not include housing, utilities, car and school expenses.

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