BEIJING and Shanghai have overtaken Singapore in a ranking for the most expensive locations for expatriates in Asia.
Singapore is Asia's eighth most expensive location, while Beijing and Shanghai have jumped to fifth and sixth positions respectively, in the March 2012 survey done by HR consulting firm ECA International. Beijing is also the 20th most expensive in the world for international assignees.
Singapore was sixth most expensive in March last year, while Beijing and Shanghai took the eighth and ninth positions respectively.
"The rate of increase in the prices of goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in China has gone up sharply in the past year," said Lee Quane, regional director, Asia, who also noted the strengthening of the yuan against major currencies as the other important factor pushing up the cost of living in China.
According to Mr Quane, prices of goods and services commonly bought by expatriates in Singapore have increased almost 6 per cent on average in the last year, almost double the rate of the previous year.
This is comparable to prices in Asia as a whole, which experienced a similar 6 per cent rise over the last 12 months, a slight increase from 4 per cent the year before.
The cost of living spikes in China are not confined to the two financial hubs of Beijing and Shanghai, with mid-tier cities Shenzhen and Guangzhou jumping six and two places respectively from last year to achieve 10th and 11th positions respectively, just behind Hong Kong.
On the global rankings, Asian cities are increasingly making their presence felt, with all four cities Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong making significant leaps up the chart. Beijing is now the 20th most expensive city worldwide, compared to 48th last year, while Singapore jumped six spots to take 32nd place.
Japanese cities retain their reputation as the most costly cities worldwide for expatriates, continuing to occupy four of the top 10 spots globally, similar to last year.
A recent Mercer survey that also ranked countries according to the cost of living for expatriates put Singapore in sixth position globally, but Shanghai and Beijing were still cast as more affordable at 16th and 17th place respectively.