Manila still among 'most expensive cities' for expats


Posted at Jun 17 2015 09:03 PM | Updated as of Jun 18 2015 05:23 AM

MANILA – Asia has become one of the most expensive regions for employees working abroad, according to a recent survey, with Manila jumping 50 spots in this year's ranking.

Mercer's 21st annual Cost of Living Survey revealed that the Philippine capital is now the 75th most expensive city in the world for expats, climbing 50 spots from last year’s ranking of 125.

Five major cities in Asia accounted for half of the top 10 costliest expat destinations.

These cities are Hong Kong (2nd), Singapore (4th), Shanghai (6th), Beijing (7th) and Seoul (8th).

Much of the change in rankings is down to currency fluctuations, with the appreciation of the yuan against the dollar pushing up the cost of living in China, which now accounts for nine of the top 30 most expensive expat cities in the world.

"Chinese cities jumped in the ranking due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan along with the high costs of expatriate consumer goods," said Mercer executive Nathalie Constantin-Metral in a statement.

Tokyo, ranked the most expensive city for expats in 2012, dropped four places from last year to number 11 due to a slump in the Japanese currency after a massive easing program by its central bank.

"Japanese cities have continued to drop in the ranking this year as a result of the Japanese yen weakening against the US dollar," added Constantin-Metral.

Overall, the cost of living in Western European cities dropped due to a slide in the euro.

The three cities that made the top 10 -- Zurich, Geneva and Bern -- use the Swiss Franc, which jumped in January after the central bank removed a ceiling on its strength.

Leading the rankings was the Angolan capital Luanda, which retained its top spot due to the high price of imported goods and security services used by many foreigners.

“As the global economy has become increasingly interconnected, close to 75 percent of multinational organizations are expecting long-term expatriate assignments to remain stable or increase over the next two years to address business needs,” said Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Talent business.

“Sending employees abroad is necessary to compete in markets and for critical talent, and employers need a reliable and accurate reflection of the cost to their bottom line," Bonic added.

The survey by the Mercer consulting group analyzes costs of over 200 goods and services in over 207 cities worldwide.

It takes New York as its base city for comparison, and measures currency movements against the dollar, which has appreciated significantly from a year ago as the health of the US economy has improved. -- With Agence France-Presse