KL, JB, George Town among cheapest cities for expats

expatriates-in-malaysiaSINGAPORE: Malaysian cities, namely Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and George Town are ranked among the world’s cheapest locations for expatriates.

This was one of the findings of the latest cost of living research published by ECA International, the world’s leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

The three cities joined Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which claims the status as Asia’s cheapest location.

“This highlights the curiosity of managing the movement of people in Asia for many companies and their human resource departments,” ECA International regional director-Asia Lee Quane said in a statement here.

“Asia is home to some of the world’s most expensive locations, as well as its cheapest. This level of variety is only matched in Africa, which is home to both the world’s most expensive locations and its cheapest,” he said.

The four cities together with Yangon (Myanmar) and Karachi (Pakistan) make up the cheapest locations in Asia, with all these locations falling in ECA’s global rankings over the past 12 months.

Tokyo remains the most expensive location for expatriates in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s southern neighbour, Singapore, has dropped out of the top 20 most expensive locations in the world for expatriates, ranking 21st out of over 260 cities, the lowest it has featured since 2014.

Singapore has dropped five places since 2016, having been overtaken in the rankings by cities such as Tel Aviv and Copenhagen.

“European currencies have performed very strongly over the past 12 months, outpacing many other currencies in the world, including the Singapore dollar.

“This has resulted in Singapore slipping down the rankings slightly, with some of the more expensive European cities rising above it in the table,” Quane said.

ECA International has been conducting research into cost of living for over 45 years.

It carries out two cost of living surveys per year to help companies calculate cost of living allowances so that their employees’ spending power is not compromised while on international assignment.

The surveys compare a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by assignees in 470 locations worldwide.

Certain living costs, such as accommodation rental, utilities, car purchases and school fees are usually covered by separate allowances.

Data for these costs are collected separately and are not included in ECA’s cost of living basket.