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Cost of Living - Asia Pacific October 2012

Asia Pacific: Cost of Living Rankings for October 2012


Which cities / countries drop in the ranking, and which moved up?

  • The biggest mover down the rankings is Tashkent in Uzbekistan, which has dropped to become the 474th most expensive location in the world.
  • The biggest mover up the rankings is Papeete in French Polynesia, which has risen to be the 117th most expensive location in the world.

Reasons for this movement:


Tashkent has become less expensive for expatriate’s to live in relative to other global locations. This is mainly due to the depreciation of the Uzbekistan Som against the US Dollar over the past year.  In September 2011 US $1 could buy UZS 1750, today that has risen to over UZS 1920, increasing expatriate purchasing power by just under 10% in one year.

Papeetes high cost of living is mainly due to the fact that most goods and services are imported at great cost. Furthermore the economy is exposed to the global economy through its heavy reliance on tourism which went into a long decline from 2006 and was compounded by the global recession. Groceries and communication are particularly expensive.

Xpatulator’s Cost of Living rankings are released every quarter and measure the comparative cost of living for expatriates in 780 cities, covering every country worldwide.  The cost of 13 basket groups with over 140 items are compared in each location, these include alcohol and tobacco, clothing, communication, education, furniture and appliances, groceries, healthcare, housing, personal care, recreation and culture, restaurants-meals-out and hotels, and transport.

Tokyo as the most expensive city in Asia-Pacific and the world has an overall cost of living index of 139.89 compared to New York with an index of 100. Tokyo is followed by Zurich, Geneva and Luanda in the world rankings.

Tokyo is the most expensive city mainly because of the historical strength of the Japanese currency, the high population density, the high level of salaries, and the lack of resources which result in a high proportion of imports. Particularly expensive in Tokyo are the following basket groups groceries, healthcare, housing, and transport. Benchmark price in a major international retail store for 1 kg apples is $7.08, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast $11.91, 1 kg cheddar cheese $18.22, and 1 L full cream milk $2.73.

Benchmark price for a private practice doctor visit for an uninsured patient is $125, and a private hospital stay per day including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food, and related costs is $3,675. Benchmark rental for a secure upmarket unfurnished apartment (3 bedrooms) is $6,293 in a central location, and $3,209 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities.

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.


The below ranking shows the overall Cost of Living Rankings in Asia Pacific by city:

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


The below ranking shows the Cost of Living Rankings in Asia Pacific by city excluding housing, education, healthcare and transport basket groups:

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

Xpatulator.com Head of Client and Marketing Services Denise McManus that: “Expatriates have long known that Tokyo is a very expensive posting. However it is possible to live within your budget by making sensible choices, for example we know that taxis are expensive, so rather save money and make use of the train service. There are also many expensive restaurants, particularly western branded ones, rather explore some of the many lower and medium-end options.”

New York City is used as the base for the cost of living index rankings and the US dollar is used as the base currency. The cost of living data collected is representative of an expatriate lifestyle, where the local prices for fixed quantities of the same good and services at or near each location, and US dollar exchange rates are used.  Prices in each location are affected by availability (i.e. supply and demand) as well as local pricing regulations and taxes on goods and services (e.g. premiums on luxury goods).  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 the host country.  The cost of living has a significant impact on the purchasing power of an expatriate’s salary package.


This article may be freely copied as long as reference is made to http://www.xpatulator.com/