10 most expensive locations for expat accommodation in Asia


The average monthly rent for expatriates in Singapore has risen for the first time in five years. This was one of the findings of the latest research published by ECA International.

The average monthly rental price for an unfurnished, mid-market, three-bedroom apartment in areas commonly inhabited by international executives in Singapore is now US$4,233 – a rise of 1.4% from last year.


In Asia, Hong Kong clinched the title of most expensive location for expatriate accommodation the third year in a row, with average monthly rents in the city increasing by 3.45% to US$11,318 from the year before.


Analysing the relocation trends of both countries, Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International noted that the last 12 months have seen an increase in overseas relocation to Singapore, especially in the fintech and pharmaceutical sectors.

In particular, he pointed out that there was also evidence that expatriate populations were moving from Hong Kong to Singapore due to the relative stability of the latter, thus increasing the demand for housing in Singapore.


“However, the recent establishment of tighter restrictions on work permits for overseas workers have now counteracted this somewhat. It is also important to note that the rise in the average rent in Singapore remains relatively low, at less than 2% from last year. Also, Singapore is still only the ninth most expensive location in Asia for overall rental costs, coming behind cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai and Seoul.”


Commenting on the situation in Hong Kong, he added: “Despite another increase in rental costs for expatriates living in Hong Kong, the rise was lower than the 4.9% increase that was seen the year before. Hong Kong has the most expensive rents due to a number of factors – notably, the high population density of the territory and limited opportunities to build new homes, which combine to drive rental costs upwards. However, in light of the prolonged anti-government protests and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, we expect to see rents fall throughout 2020 as the number of overseas workers in Hong Kong drops significantly and the usually high demand for housing is tempered.”


Elsewhere in Asia, cities in China saw varying rental trends over the past year. Although expatriate accommodation costs in Beijing was fairly static, with the capital city staying in 19th place globally, other Chinese cities saw big increases in the average rent, with Shenzhen seeing the biggest increase of 7.22%.


Whereas, Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, was another city that saw steep increases in rent from last year with a rise of 5.29% – moving the city into the top 50 most expensive locations in the world for expatriate accommodation.



In Southeast Asia, the only other city that made the top 10 list was Bangkok, Thailand, in tenth place with an average monthly expat rental cost of US$4,076. While Singapore’s closest neighbour, Malaysia, was found in the top 50, with Kuala Lumpur in 37th place.


2020’s top 10 most expensive locations for expat rents in Asia  (average monthly expat rental costs in USD)

  • 1. Hong Kong: US$11,318

  • 2. Tokyo, Japan: US$9,207

  • 3. Shanghai, China: US$5,363

  • 4. Yokohama, Japan: US$5,090

  • 5. Seoul, Korea Republic: US$4,931

  • 6. Beijing, China: US$4,566

  • 7. Mumbai, India: US$4,403

  • 8. Osaka, Japan: US$4,254

  • 9. Singapore: US$4,233

  • 10. Bangkok, Thailand: US$4,076


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