Expats living in Tokyo are paying more rent than anywhere else in the world because of a soaring yen, while those in Hong Kong have seen theirs rise 22 percent, a survey showed.
For the privilege of living in the Japanese capital, an expatriate would have forked out an average US$4,352 a month for a two-bedroom apartment last year, the annual report by human resources consultant ECA International said.
That was followed by Moscow, where rents were US$3,500, and Hong Kong at US$2,830 a month.
The stronger yen — which struck a 15-year high against the US dollar in November — helped keep Tokyo at the top of the list, it said.
“Currency movements can have a big impact on costs for companies sending employees on assignment,” said Lee Quane, the regional director of Hong Kong-based ECA Asia.
“Tokyo is a case in point,” Quane said.
Rents in Moscow tumbled 25 percent in 2009 as foreign workers left the city during the global financial crisis, but now expats are returning to the Russian capital, the survey said.
“The return of expatriate demand to Moscow in 2010 and continually tight supply [have] led to price increases of approximately 17 percent in the city to US$3,500 a month,” it said.
Third-placed Hong Kong jumped six places in the survey of more than 120 major cities as rents surged 22 percent year-on-year, while London and Singapore were in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Caracas, Abu Dhabi, Bogota, San Francisco and Geneva finished off the top 10.
Across Asia, rents for two-bedroom apartments rose about 7 percent last year compared with a 1 percent average drop worldwide, as the region bounced back from the global financial meltdown.
“Two years ago we witnessed a drop in rental prices across Asia as a result of the recession,” Quane said, adding that a “rapid economic recovery” had boosted rents.
Rentals in Shanghai and Beijing, ranked 24th and 25th globally, also rose last year after falling in 2009, while the southern industrial city of Shenzhen, ranked 114th, was the cheapest major city for expats in China.
The Pakistani port city of Karachi had the cheapest expat rent, with a two-bedroom apartment costing on average US$256 a month, about 17 times less than Tokyo.
The report focused on the neighborhoods and types of accommodation typically favored by expatriates.
It found that luxury residential rents in Hong Kong surpassed Tokyo, with a three-bedroom apartment in the exclusive Peak neighborhood costing an average US$16,700 a month, about 30 percent more than Tokyo.
“Land in Hong Kong is already expensive due to the lack of space,” Quane said, adding that low interest rates also helped push prices sky-high.