At US$4,200, Singapore rents are among top 10 most expensive for expats in Asia – but still peanuts compared to Hong Kong’s US$11,000

The average rent for a 3-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Singapore was US$4,215 in September 2018. This is a far cry from Hong Kong’s US$10,929.
The Straits Times

Despite a fall of US$500 (S$678) in average monthly rental prices, rents paid by expatriates in Singapore are still among the top 10 highest in Asia, a study by ECA International has shown.

According to the expatriate management and human resource consultancy, the average rental price of an unfurnished, mid-market, 3-bedroom apartment in areas commonly inhabited by international executives in Singapore was US$4,215 a month in September 2018.

This is a drop of 1.3% compared to the previous year, and US$500 lower than in 2016.

“Reductions in the population of non-residents in Singapore, a key driver of rental demand, has led to continued drops in rental prices for expatriates,” said Lee Quane, regional director – Asia at ECA International.

Recent announcements that further limit the proportion of foreign workers that companies in the services sector can employ will likely also result in a continued downward trend in rents, Quane added.

In ECA’s latest study, Singapore ranked eighth most expensive in Asia, just behind Mumbai’s US$4,342, and before Osaka’s US$4,061. The city state is also 24th most expensive in the world.

But if you thought these prices were steep, Hong Kong’s US$10,929 average rental will blow you away. Ranked in first place, the Pearl of the Orient’s rental rates are more than U$2,000 more than the US$8,668 in Tokyo.

Hong Kong remains the most expensive location in the world for expatriate rent, with typical expatriate accommodation costing an average of USD 10,929 per month – an increase of 4.9 per cent from 2018.

“The main driver of increased rent across Hong Kong in 2018 was the limited availability of housing, which has been a long-term issue for the Hong Kong housing market,” Quane said.

“Rent increases are not just limited to central Hong Kong anymore either; rents are expected to rise throughout outlying neighbourhoods in 2019 too, as international firms seek more affordable office spaces and leverage options in cheaper suburbs,” he added.

And although it is in second place, rental costs in Tokyo have risen at a quicker rate than in Hong Kong, a rise of 6.9 per cent from 2017.

“A rise in tourism, coupled with the accompanying increase in landlords preferring to lease out accommodation on a short-term basis, have contributed to rising costs in recent years,” Quane said.

Based on the average rental prices for an unfurnished, three-bedroom apartment in the mid-range of the expatriate market.
ECA International

In mainland China, Shanghai was the highest-placed Chinese city, averaging US$5,305 per month.

At US$3,880, Bangkok entered the top 10 most expensive Asian locations for expatriate accommodation for the first time.

Over in Malaysia, rental prices in Kuala Lumpur saw a rebound after a sustained decline between 2015 and 2017, with the average rental cost for expatriates now at US$1,621 per month, an increase of US$112 from the year before.

This puts KL at 37th spot in Asia, and 220th globally.

“The domestic economy has been comparatively weak in Malaysia over the past few years, and the delivery of large stocks of properties to the rental market was not balanced by weaker demand,” Quane said.

He added: “Rents for apartments staged a recovery in 2018, but Kuala Lumpur is still very affordable for a major city in the region.”