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Cost of Living - Asia Pacific July 2012

The most worlds most expensive place to live in July 2012 is in Asia Pacific. Hong Kong, based on the overall cost of living, encompassing all cost of living baskets has overtaken Tokyo to top the latest international cost of living rankings. The rankings are based on data collected for 780 international locations, covering every country world-wide.

Moscow is the worlds most expensive based on the cost of living excluding the housing, education, healthcare and transport baskets, while Sydney is most expensive in Asia Pacific on this basis. Many companies cover these costs on behalf of the employee while on international assignments.

The cost of living (COL) data collected is representative of an expatriate lifestyle. The components of the COL data are local prices for fixed quantities of the same goods and services in each location, local inflation and exchange rates. Prices in each location are affected by availability (i.e. supply & demand) as well as local pricing regulations and taxes on goods and services (e.g.premiums on luxury brands). Local inflation is usually representative of local price increases which in turn impacts an expatriates purchasing power in the host country. The exchange rate impacts both the price of imports to the host country and the expatriate assignment salary calculation between the home and host country. The cost of living has a significant impact on the purchasing power of an expatriate’s salary package.

As the overall global most expensive place to live, Hong Kong has an overall cost of living index of 149.14, followed by Tokyo with 142.12, and Zurich with 137.12. The overall index is comprised of 13 different basket groups. The assumption using the overall index is that everything is paid from the salary package. In addition, the cost of living calculations are weighted according to typical monthly international expatriate spending patterns. The Household Accommodation Basket for example, has a weighting of 30%, while the Groceries Basket has a weighting of 16.5%. That means that an international expatriate who, for example, earns 10,000 would typically spend 3,000 (30% of 10,000) on housing and 1,650 on groceries.

Much of the developed world has historically embedded high cost of living structures such as housing, education, healthcare and transport that keep them amongst the most expensive places to live. The major factor contributing to this is the relatively higher level of pay in the developed world, particularly amongst lower level jobs. Asia-Pacific has 25 places in the top 50 based on the overall cost of living index but only 12 out of 50 places based on the cost of living excluding housing, education, healthcare and transport costs.

To provide an assignee, sent from a low cost of living country to a more expensive country, with a similar purchasing power to what they have in their home country, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary. The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in the host country.

Hong Kong is approximately 5% more expensive than Tokyo based on the overall cost of living including household accommodation, however if the housing, education, healthcare and transport baskets are excluded, Tokyo is actually around 27% more expensive than Hong Kong. Household accommodation comprises 30% of the overall cost of living index. Hong Kong is very expensive for household accommodation. A 3 bedroomed apartment in Hong Kong costs around 46,000 HKD / 6,000 USD per month to rent compared 300,000 JPY / 3,800 USD in Tokyo, 4,000 AUD/USD in Sydney and 2,700 EUR / 3,400 USD in Zurich.

In January 2008, 1 Japanese Yen bought USD 0.009, by January 2012 the Yen had strengthened by 44% to 0.013 USD. The positive impact on expatriates based in Japan is that imported goods priced in USD would have become a great deal cheaper in local currency. However expatriates earning US Dollar salary packages will have seen a significant drop salary when converted to local currency, unless assignment salary adjustments were made. In January 2008 an expat based in Japan, earning 100,000 USD per annum, was on the equivalent of around 11.1 million JPY using the ruling exchange rate at the time. If no adjustment was made to the 100,000 USD, the equivalent in January 2012 converted to local currency was 7.7 million JPY which represents a considerable drop in purchasing power. During this period Japan's inflation has ranged between 0.1% and 1.3% per annum. The impact of the significant change in the exchange rate from 2008 to 2012 is that in order to maintain purchasing power in Japan at 2008 levels, the 100,000 USD expatriate salary package would have to be increased to around 144,000 USD in 2012. To provide an assignee, sent from a low cost of living location to a more expensive country, with a similar purchasing power to what they have in their home country, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary. The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in the host country. For example an assignee sent from Houston with a cost of living index of 67.43 to Tokyo with a cost of living index of 142.12 would experience around 110% (i.e. more than double) increase in the cost of living. Therefore as at July 2012 an assignee earning 100,000 USD in Houston would need to earn around 210,000 USD in Tokyo to have the same purchasing power as they had in Houston.

Mumbai is the most expensive place in South Asia, but is still considered much cheaper than many western cities. Mumbai's overall cost of living is significantly lower than cities such as London (48% more expensive than Mumbai), Rome (25% more expensive), New York (23% more expensive) and Cape Town (11% more expensive). Although, within the context of the region, Mumbai is considered particularly expensive for household accommodation and groceries, a 3 bedroomed apartment in Mumbai costs around 67,000 INR / 1,200 USD rent per month compared to Rome at around 2,400 EUR / 3,000 USD per month. Similarly a litre of milk which costs around 40 INR / 0.72 USD in Mumbai costs around 10 ZAR / 1.20 USD in Cape Town.

Cost of Living Rank - Asia Pacific Locations - Overall Cost of Living & All Baskets (Highest to Lowest):

  1. China, Hong Kong
  2. Japan, Tokyo
  3. Australia, Sydney
  4. Australia, Canberra
  5. Japan, Yokohama
  6. Singapore, Singapore
  7. Australia, Perth
  8. Australia, Melbourne
  9. Japan, Osaka
  10. China, Shanghai
  11. Japan, Nagoya
  12. Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby
  13. Japan, Kobe
  14. Australia, Brisbane
  15. Japan, Kyoto
  16. Japan, Kawasaki
  17. New Zealand, Wellington
  18. New Zealand, Auckland
  19. Korea Republic of, Seoul
  20. Korea Republic of, Daegu
  21. Korea Republic of, Incheon
  22. Japan, Fukuoka
  23. Australia, Adelaide
  24. Korea Republic of, Busan
  25. Taiwan, Taipei
  26. Micronesia, Palikir
  27. Japan, Sapporo
  28. New Zealand, Christchurch
  29. Cook Islands, Avarua
  30. Solomon Islands, Honiara
  31. New Caledonia, Noumea
  32. Samoa, Apia
  33. Vanuatu, Port Vila
  34. China, Beijing
  35. Kiribati, South Tarawa
  36. Marshall Islands, Majuro
  37. Nauru, Yaren
  38. Timor-Leste, Dili
  39. Tuvalu, Funafuti
  40. Guam, Hagatna
  41. Indonesia, Jakarta
  42. Uzbekistan, Tashkent
  43. Philippines, Manila
  44. Kazakhstan, Almaty
  45. Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan
  46. French Polynesia, Papeete
  47. Fiji, Suva
  48. Laos, Vientiane
  49. Thailand, Bangkok
  50. China, Wuhan
  51. China, Shenzhen
  52. Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan
  53. Indonesia, Bandung
  54. China, Dalian
  55. China, Tianjin
  56. Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
  57. Myanmar, Yangon
  58. Malaysia, Johor Bahru
  59. China, Guangzhou
  60. Indonesia, Bali
  61. Palau, Melekeok
  62. Vietnam, Hanoi
  63. Malaysia, Subang Jaya
  64. Indonesia, Surabaya
  65. Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
  66. Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
  67. Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City
  68. China, Macao
  69. Malaysia, Klang
  70. Turkmenistan, Ashgabat
  71. Indonesia, Medan
  72. Tonga, Nuku'Alofa
  73. Tajikistan, Dushanbe
  74. Korea Democratic Republic of, Pyongyang
  75. Cambodia, Phnom Penh

Cost of Living Rank - Asia Pacific Locations - Excluding Housing, Education, Healthcare and Transport Baskets (Highest to Lowest):

  1. Australia, Sydney
  2. Australia, Canberra
  3. Japan, Tokyo
  4. Australia, Melbourne
  5. Australia, Perth
  6. Samoa, Apia
  7. Kiribati, South Tarawa
  8. Solomon Islands, Honiara
  9. Australia, Brisbane
  10. New Caledonia, Noumea
  11. Vanuatu, Port Vila
  12. New Zealand, Wellington
  13. Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby
  14. New Zealand, Auckland
  15. Australia, Adelaide
  16. Korea Republic of, Seoul
  17. Korea Republic of, Daegu
  18. Korea Republic of, Incheon
  19. Korea Republic of, Busan
  20. Micronesia, Palikir
  21. Japan, Osaka
  22. Singapore, Singapore
  23. Japan, Yokohama
  24. Indonesia, Jakarta
  25. Japan, Kobe
  26. Cook Islands, Avarua
  27. Marshall Islands, Majuro
  28. China, Hong Kong
  29. Japan, Nagoya
  30. Uzbekistan, Tashkent
  31. New Zealand, Christchurch
  32. China, Shanghai
  33. Tuvalu, Funafuti
  34. China, Beijing
  35. Japan, Kawasaki
  36. French Polynesia, Papeete
  37. Guam, Hagatna
  38. Philippines, Manila
  39. Japan, Kyoto
  40. Japan, Sapporo
  41. Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan
  42. Japan, Fukuoka
  43. Nauru, Yaren
  44. Laos, Vientiane
  45. Kazakhstan, Almaty
  46. Thailand, Bangkok
  47. Fiji, Suva
  48. Indonesia, Bandung
  49. China, Macao
  50. Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
  51. Timor-Leste, Dili
  52. Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan
  53. Indonesia, Bali
  54. Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
  55. Myanmar, Yangon
  56. Malaysia, Subang Jaya
  57. Malaysia, Johor Bahru
  58. Palau, Melekeok
  59. Indonesia, Surabaya
  60. China, Shenzhen
  61. China, Wuhan
  62. Taiwan, Taipei
  63. Malaysia, Klang
  64. China, Tianjin
  65. China, Dalian
  66. Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
  67. Tonga, Nuku'Alofa
  68. Tajikistan, Dushanbe
  69. China, Guangzhou
  70. Indonesia, Medan
  71. Korea Democratic Republic of, Pyongyang
  72. Vietnam, Hanoi
  73. Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City
  74. Turkmenistan, Ashgabat
  75. Cambodia, Phnom Penh

About Xpatulator.com’s Cost of Living Data

Xpatulator.com’s cost of living data is based on prices for the same quantity and quality of goods and services, representative of expatriate lifestyle, in each city. The data is collected and updated on a quarterly basis. The cost of living data is used by Xpatulator.com clients to calculate salary purchasing power parity, cost of living allowances, and customized (i.e. clients can select their own base city) cost of living indexes for expatriate assignments online, using Xpatulator.com’s 3 premium content calculators.
The 13 basket groups do not count equally and are weighted according to expatriate expenditure norms as follows (weighting percentage is in brackets):
1. Alcohol & Tobacco (2%): Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
2. Clothing (2.5%): Clothing and footwear products.
3. Communication (2%): Telephone, Internet, Mobile Contract and Calls.
4. Education (5%): Creche Fees, School Fees, College Fees, and Tertiary Study Fees.
5. Furniture & Appliances (5%): Furniture, household equipment and appliances.
6. Groceries (16.5%): Food, non-alcoholic beverages and cleaning materials.
7. Healthcare (5%): Doctor Consultation rates, Private Ward Rate, Prescription Medicine, and Private Medical Insurance Contributions.
8. Household (30%): Housing rental, utilities, local rates and residential taxes.
9. Miscellaneous (3%): Stationary, Linen and general goods and services.
10. Personal Care (3%): Personal Care products and services.
11. Recreation & Culture (6%): Books, Camera Film, Cinema Ticket, DVD and CD’s, Sports goods, Theatre Tickets.
12. Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels (2%): Dinner at Restaurant (non fast food), Hotel Rates, Take Away, Drinks & Snacks (fast Food).
13. Transport (18%): Public Transport, Vehicle Costs, Vehicle Fuel, Vehicle Insurance and Vehicle Maintenance.

About Xpatulator.com
Xpatulator.com is the most comprehensive source of international cost of living information. We provide free international cost of living overviews and rank information covering 13 cost of living baskets and every country around the world as well as premium content calculators.

Founded in 2007, Xpatulator.com’s mission is to organize the world’s cost of living indices, exchange rates and relative hardship indices and make it accessible and useful to all.

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