Living in the world's priciest cities

By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

5 May 2017

Asian cities frequently appear in the rankings of the world's most expensive places to live, but how do they stack up when compared?

Singapore is widely regarded as the most costly location, and the city-state joined Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo and Hong Kong in the top 10 cities of the 2017 EIU Worldwide Cost of Living report.

Graham Stirling CA, Audit Manager at Grant Thornton Singapore, commented: "What surprised me was that there wasn't any consistency in pricing differences. For example, alcohol, western food, accommodation and car ownership is much more expensive [than in the UK]; but utilities, public transport, taxis, taxes and local food are very much cheaper."

Practising Director of Mazars Hong Kong Kenneth Morrison CA agreed that the rental and purchase costs of housing were surprising when he first moved to the city. He added: "However, this is offset by a very simple and low tax rate system – the maximum rate is 15% for personal tax; there is no VAT or sales taxes; no capital gains tax or inheritance tax. Also, public transport is efficient and inexpensive."

But just how much more are CAs overseas paying for the local amenities? Using crowd-sourced data from, we've taken a look at the costs per month in some of Asia's most expensive cities.

Cost of Living infographic
[Click to enlarge]

Disclaimer: Crowd-sourced data is subject to independent contributions and may not be 100% accurate.

Despite the potential expense, working in these regions can provide a unique opportunity for CAs.

Kenneth said: "Things work here! It is also a very safe city with a very low crime rate compared with many other cities around the world. The multi-cultural and multi-ethnic mix adds to the rich experience of living in an international city."

Similarly, Graham commented: "It's definitely worth the experience; salaries are good in Singapore and I think the net balance in your account at end of month is relatively comparable to home. A lot of this is helped by the low income tax rate."


  • CA life
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