Expats’ pay in Malaysia increase 11% but remains the cheapest to hire in Asia, study shows

China has the third-highest expatriate packages in Asia followed by Japan and India


MALAYSIA retained its position as the cheapest location in Asia to hire an expatriate in 2021, coming in at 40th in the global rankings of locations with the highest expatriate packages.

Based on a study conducted by the MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey, it has revealed that expatriates living in Malaysia have observed their cash compensation increase by 11%, higher than the regional average.

“Expatriates in Malaysia saw their cash compensation rise at a rate of 11%, which was higher than the regional average. 

“Despite this, Malaysia remains the location in the region with the lowest salary and benefits packages for expatriate staff in 2021,” ECA International regional director (Asia) Lee Quane said in a statement yesterday.

Quane said once the package value has been converted into US dollar, the total value of pay growth rates increased by a total of 10% despite being modest in local currency terms.

Meanwhile, other countries have increased in terms of their rankings which are Australia (7) to New Zealand (13) from eight to 16th place on the back of strengthening of their currencies, increased benefits costs and income tax changes in the past 12 months.

China has the third-highest expatriate packages in Asia followed by Japan and India.

“While its position in the rankings remains unchanged, cash salaries paid to expatriate staff increased by over 11% in 2021 in US dollar terms compared to the year before.

“This was partly influenced by the relative strength of the Chinese yuan, but may also be attributed to companies having to offer higher salaries to attract and retain expatriate staff, as China continued to impose its zero-Covid policy throughout the year,” Quane added.

However, expatriate packages in Hong Kong (1%) have increased lower than the regional average (4.5%) while other packages in the region increased at an average rate of 9% and overall packages by 10% in 2021.

Countries like Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam are also falling down in their rankings as their rates of growth were lower than those experienced elsewhere in the world.

On the other hand, the UK has the highest expatriate packages in the word with an expatriate package overall value increase of 9% in US dollar.

The MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey looks at the cost of an expatriate package which consists of the cash salary, benefits and taxes to assist companies with relocating its staff around the world.

The list of countries used in the rankings is based on countries which have cities appearing in the top 40 of The Global Financial Centres Index.