By THE NATION
Elsewhere in the region, Singapore is now the 20th most expensive location in the world, as Hong Kong drops from second to 11th in the Cost of Living global rankings.
Tokyo is the most expensive Asian city on the global list in seventh place.
Alongside rising trend for Thai cities, Malaysian cities have also moved up the index.
Commenting on Thailand's and Malaysia's rise in the rankings, Lee Quane, regional director – Asia, ECA International, said that once again prices increased at a relatively low rate, in both countries. In the case of Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur, this shows that the inflationary impact of the imposition of a goods and services tax seems to have been brought under control. “Rather, it is the relative appreciation of each country's currency that saw Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur rise in our rankings to 99 and 182 respectively,” Quane said.
Chiang Mai also saw a rise and is up to 169 in the global rankings.
“The price of goods and services included in our basket of goods has only seen modest increase in Singapore over the past 12 months, in line with other similar economies in Asia," said Quane.
“However, the rise in the rankings has been due to the relative strength of the Singapore dollar versus the US greenback in the past year.”
ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years. It carries out two main cost of living surveys per year to help companies calculate cost of living allowances so that their employees' spending power is not compromised while on international assignment.
The surveys compare a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in 475 locations worldwide. Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances. Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA's cost of living basket.
Quane said that Hong Kong has seen a significant drop in our cost of living rankings for overseas workers, falling behind locations such as Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. The main reason behind the drop is the fall in value of the US dollar against which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged, over the last year.
Exchange rates have been the main cause of movements in the rankings in the past 12 months. “Rates of price increases throughout most of the major locations in Asia researched has been quite low,” said Quane. “Currency movements, on the other hand, have been quite volatile with several emerging market currencies strengthening against the US dollar in the last year.”
Every one of the Chinese cities included in the survey has seen a rise in the global rankings from last year. Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city on the list in 10th place overall.
Tokyo is now the most expensive location in Asia to live in, despite staying in seventh place in the global rankings.
“Tokyo's global ranking has remained relatively static over the past few years,” Quane said. “It is only the yen's relative strength against the US dollar that has seen the Japanese capital become the most expensive place in Asia for foreigners to live and work, at Hong Kong's expense. It has been a similar theme in Seoul, which is also now above Hong Kong in the rankings, despite remaining in eighth place globally.”
In Europe, rankings have largely gone up, with locations such as Rome, Paris and Dublin rising by over 40 places each.
Quane said that the euro has performed significantly better over the past twelve months compared to the previous year, so we have seen living costs increase in a number of European nations. Cities such as Rome and Brussels have risen by over 50 places.
Swiss cities continue to dominate the top of the rankings – with four locations remaining in the global top 10.