Expat pay packages jump in Singapore, drop in Hong Kong

The cost of expat pay packages in Singapore climbed 4% last year, while those for foreign workers in Hong Kong fell, according to a new study by expat consultancy ECA International.

Total pay and benefits packages for average expat middle managers in Singapore rose to $258,762, mainly due to higher rental costs. The increase narrowed the gap with rival Hong Kong, which saw typical expat packages fall 2% to $278,020.

Despite the drop in real terms, Hong Kong climbed three places to become the world’s fifth-most expensive place to send expat workers. Singapore sat at 16th place in the rankings. The top spot was retained by the UK, where the average package — comprising salary, tax and benefits such as accommodation, international schooling and utilities — amounted to $441,608, though salary only made up 18% of the total.

Japan, India and China took spots two, three and four in the MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey global ranking.

“The surge in the cost in expatriate accommodation in Singapore is being felt by locals and expats alike, reflected in the 9% increase in the cost of benefits in expatriate packages when measured in USD terms,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s regional director for Asia. “Only the fact that salaries fell by US$4,000 prevented Singapore from climbing higher in the rankings.”

A strong dollar pushed the US up seven places to land at number nine in the rankings, with the average package rising to $272,770, despite a slight dip in expat salaries. –BLOOMBERG