Photographer: Sam Kang Li/Bloomberg

Expat Packages Are Worsening in Singapore and Hong Kong: Survey

  • Singapore packages lowest in five years in U.S. dollar terms
  • Hong Kong packages are falling, still fourth highest in Asia

The value of pay and benefits packages for expatriates moving to Hong Kong and Singapore continued to decline last year, according consultancy firm ECA International.

For middle managers in Hong Kong, expat packages -- including salary, tax and benefits such as accommodation and schooling -- have fallen 2 percent in U.S. dollar terms over the past five years to around $265,500, while the typical package in Singapore dropped 6 percent to $235,500, ECA’s annual MyExpatriate Market Pay survey found.

The average expat package for a middle manager in mainland China is worth $282,500, behind Japan -- the most expensive package in the Asia-Pacific region -- at $367,500. Japanese packages have risen by around 12 percent from 2016 as the yen strengthened against the dollar over the latest survey period, ECA said.

“Traditionally, Hong Kong has offered more lucrative packages for expatriates than China’s major cities,” Lee Quane, a regional director for Asia with ECA, said in a release. “However, in the past few years, rising cost of living and increased pollution in China made it more challenging to attract international talent and so packages continue to rise in local terms.”

Despite this trend in China, the mainland remains attractive for companies looking to relocate employees as costs have fallen in U.S. dollar terms because the yuan has weakened, Quane said.

India has the third highest packages at $277,900, primarily because of high taxes that consume almost half their value, according to ECA. When tax is excluded, India falls out of the region’s top 10 most expensive locations, it said.

Singapore is ninth in the region. While expat salaries there have risen to the highest levels since the survey began, a significant decline in benefits has reduced the total package value, Quane said.

ECA said it surveyed more than 290 companies covering 160 countries and more than 10,000 international assignees, collecting data in the “later stages” of 2016.

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