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    BSB the 102nd most expensive for expats, says annual survey

    |    Azlan Othman   |

    BANDAR Seri Begawan now ranks as the 102nd most expensive city for employees working abroad, out of 210 cities in Mercer’s 25th annual Cost of Living Survey 2019. Brunei’s capital city also went up four spots from 2018.

    Bandar Seri Begawan is also the second most expensive city in Asean after Singapore, which is the third costliest city in the world. Jakarta is ranked 105th, Phnom Penh 108th, Manila 109th, Hanoi 112th Yangon 117th, Ho Chi Minh 120th and Kuala Lumpur 141st.

    Multinational organisations are assessing the cost of expatriate packages for their international assignees and factors, including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices which contribute to the overall cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

    Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey finds that eight out of the top 10 of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates are Asian cities, resulting from high costs for expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market.

    The costliest city in the world for the second consecutive year is Hong Kong, followed by Tokyo (2), Singapore (3) and Seoul (4).

    Other cities appearing in the top 10 are Zurich (5), Shanghai (6), Ashgabat (7), Beijing (8), New York City (9), and Shenzhen (10).

    The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates are Tunis (209), Tashkent (208), and Karachi (207).

    Mercer’s 25th annual Cost of Living Survey finds that a number of factors, including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices, contribute to the overall cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

    “In a skill-focussed economy driven by digital disruption and the need for a globally connected workforce, deploying expatriate employees is an increasingly important aspect of a competitive business strategy for global companies,” said President of Mercer’s Career business Ilya Bonic.

    “There are numerous personal and organisational advantages for sending employees overseas, including career development, global experience, new skillsets, and re-allocation of resources. By offering fair and competitive compensation packages, organisations can facilitate moves that drive business results.”

    Mercer’s widely recognised survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the United States (US) dollar.

    The survey includes over 500 cities throughout the world; this year’s ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

    “Cost of living is an important component of a city’s attractiveness for businesses,” said Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader at Mercer Yvonne Traber.

    “Decision makers increasingly acknowledge that globalisation is challenging cities to inform, innovate, and compete to foster the kind of satisfaction that attracts both people and investment – the keys to a city’s future.”

    Eight of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia due in part to a strong housing market.

    Hong Kong (1) remains the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally, as a result of the housing market and currency being pegged to the US dollar, driving up the cost of living locally. This global financial centre is followed by Tokyo (2), Singapore (3), Seoul (4), Shanghai (6), and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (7).

    Mumbai (67) is India’s most expensive city, followed by New Delhi (118) and Chennai (154). Bengaluru (179) and Kolkata (189) are the least expensive Indian cities ranked.

    Elsewhere in Asia, Bangkok (40) jumped 12 places from last year.

    Hanoi (112) and Jakarta (105) also rose in the rankings, up 25 and 12 spots, respectively. Bishkek (206) and Tashkent (208) remain the region’s least expensive cities for expatriates.

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