the march on 440

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Shanghai now Asia’s most expensive city for expats

Shanghai has for the first time become the Asia Pacific’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to a survey by consulting firm ECA International.

The bi-annual cost of living survey by the company shows that Shanghai has climbed from last year’s 3rd most expensive city in the region to the 1st. Meanwhile, the Chinese city made the global ranking’s top 10, rising to the 8th position from last year’s 18th.

Beijing (9th globally) comes right after Shanghai on the global list, and is followed by South Korea’s capital Seoul (10th). Hong Kong is the 4th most expensive location for expats in the Asia Pacific.

While Japan’s Tokyo topped the Asia Pacific ranking last year, it has now dropped to 7th in the region and 16th globally, partly due to the significant weakening of the Japanese yen, according to ECA International’s analysis.

Explaining why Chinese cities are becoming increasingly expensive in recent years, regional director of ECA International’s Asian branch, Lee Quane, said that a strong renminbi could be one reason. Meanwhile, instead of comparing common items which can usually be bought cheaply in China, the company chose to focus on “internationally recognized quality brands,” in order to make like-for-like comparisons.

ECA International conducts its cost of living survey every March and September in over 440 locations worldwide, based on prices of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by their assignees. However, the company also said that the survey doesn’t cover living costs like rent, which is likely to make a notable difference in the ranking.