| Azlan Othman |
BANDAR Seri Begawan (BSB) is the world’s 106th most expensive city for expatriates, improving from 100th place last year, according to an annual cost of living report produced by consultancy firm Mercer published this week.
In its 2018 survey, Mercer found that four of the world’s five most expensive cities for expats are in Asia, while just one is in Europe.
Mercer’s report revealed that Hong Kong has passed Luanda to take the top spot as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates.
Tokyo and Zurich are in second and third positions, respectively, with Singapore in fourth, up one place from last year.
“With technology advances and the importance of a globally connected workforce, deploying talent remains a key component of a multinational’s business strategy,” said President of Mercer’s Career business Ilya Bonic.
“While a mobile workforce allows organisations to achieve greater efficiency, utilise top talent and be cost effective with international projects, volatile markets and slowing economic growth in many parts of the world require them to carefully assess expatriate remuneration packages,” he noted.
Other cities appearing in the top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates are Seoul (5), Luanda (6), Shanghai (7), N’Djamena (8), Beijing (9), and Bern (10).
The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates are Tashkent (209), Tunis (208), and Bishkek (207).
“Aligning workforce and mobility strategies by ensuring the right employees are in the right place is more critical than ever for multinationals as they focus on new global business models,” said Bonic.
“And, properly compensating employees on international assignments is as important as it can be costly,” he added.
Mercer’s widely recognised survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation strategies for their expatriate employees.
New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.
The survey included over 375 cities throughout the world and this year’s ranking covered 209 cities across five continents and measured the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location.
The items included housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.
In the survey conducted in March this year, Bandar Seri Begawan is also at 106th among cities around the world with the best standard of living. BSB slipped two notches compared to last year where it stood at 104th place.
According to Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide, cost of living in Brunei is 33.25 per cent lower than that of the United States (US) while rents in the Sultanate is 37.40 lower than those in the US.
An expatriate told the Weekend Bulletin that transport, restaurants, personal care, healthcare and education are less costly in the Sultanate, but communication and groceries are expensive.
“Household items are still expensive here compared to other countries in the region,” he said.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Global Livability Ranking last year placed BSB in the 100th place in a global ranking of most livable cities. EIU put BSB ahead of Bangkok (102), Manila (104), Jakarta (118), Hanoi (119), Ho Chi Minh City (122) and Phnom Penh (123), thanks mainly to improvements in infrastructure.
In Southeast Asia, it is the third most livable city after Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.