In Focus
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

What does it really cost expats to live in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is still the most expensive location for expats, despite wide-ranging drops in residential property rents over the last year.

Rental costs in Hong Kong have dropped as the pandemic prevented business travels and overseas assignments, yet the City has maintained its lead as the most expensive location for expat accommodation.

According to ECA International, the average monthly rental price for an unfurnished, mid-market, three-bedroom apartment in areas frequented by international executives costs $83,466 (US$10,769).

This already reflected a 5.95% decline, compared to the 2020 average.

“Hong Kong has seen a rare decrease in rental costs this year, as Covid-19 has lessened the demand for accommodation in the top-tier areas where expatriates would normally reside” Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International, said.

“The pandemic has had a serious effect on international business in general, but more specifically has severely limited the number of overseas workers moving to Hong Kong.”

Rental costs in Hong Kong have also been affected by the socio-political tensions in the city, coupled with 15-year record-high unemployment rate; but ECA International noted its still more expensive than living in New York.

New York and Tokyo placed second and third in the list, respectively.

Moreover, the rents in Taiwan, particularly in Taipei, saw a significant increase of 5% to US$4,101. In contrast, average rent in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all declined.

Singapore was down by one place to 26th globally, whilst Bankok fell 19 places to 49th and Hanoi dropped 12 places to 81st.

Sydney, the only Australian city in the top 50, also fell to 46th, but the biggest fall this year was seen in Istanbul after plunging 60 places to the 116th most expensive city with an average rental cost of US$2,441 monthly.

“Turkey continues to battle economic instability and faces an impending financial crisis. There remains a lot of uncertainty in the market and economic policies being tried by the government have ultimately resulted in the local currency dropping against the dollar,” Quane said.

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