Sign in

Hong Kong remains the most expensive location for expat rental accommodation

  • Hong Kong is the most expensive location in Asia
  • Tokyo remains second in the rankings, whilst Kuala Lumpur continues to fall
  • China sees significant increases in rental costs in 2017

Hong Kong is once again the most expensive location in Asia for rental accommodation. 

This was one of the findings of the latest 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.

ECA International has been conducting research into accommodation costs for international executives for more than 20 years to help companies provide the right housing options as part of the overall compensation package for mobile employees. The research compares rental costs in accommodation in areas typically inhabited by expatriate staff in over 240 locations worldwide.

Rental prices for an unfurnished, mid-market, three-bedroom apartment in areas commonly inhabited by international executives in Hong Kong average USD 10 461 per month. This is over USD 2 000 per month more than the next most expensive Asian location, Tokyo.

“With a high population density and a consistently limited supply of property, the average rent in Hong Kong continues to remain more expensive than in other high-profile Asian cities. Rents have risen slightly in the past 12 months. However, despite the high rental costs in Hong Kong, rents for the type of accommodation featured in our research remain lower than they were in 2012.”

- Lee Quane, Regional Director - Asia at ECA International

To assist companies in formulating their accommodation policy and deciding what level of housing allowance to provide to international employees, ECA International publishes annual accommodation reports. These reports contain information on the types of accommodation and geographical areas usually favoured by international executives – typically areas near to international schools, business districts or social focal points. Data from these reports is also used in ECA's Accommodation Tool for setting, managing and reviewing accommodation allowances for mobile staff.

Asia Highlights

Accommodation costs in many locations in China have increased in the past 12 months. Shanghai is the most expensive location in mainland China, and the third most expensive location in the Asia region. 

“Rents in Shanghai have risen owing to an increase in the number of inbound relocations to the city. This elevated demand in an already tight market has caused the rent rises we have seen in 2018,” said Quane. 

“However, the fastest rates of increase have been witnessed in the Pearl River Delta where rents have risen in double-digit terms in both Guangzhou and Shenzhen due to high relocation rates to these cities. Supply is yet to match demand for residential accommodation, particularly in western Shenzhen, which has caused rents to increase at fast rates for the past seven years,” added Quane.

Rents in Tokyo have also continued to go up, rising by 4% on average.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore has continued to slip down the rankings as accommodation prices continue to drop. 

Quane said, “Singapore is now the eighth most expensive location in Asia for rental accommodation, down one place from last year, and down from fourth in 2016. This is due to a slowing of economic growth and a net reduction in inbound assignments, exacerbating the surplus of higher-end properties on the market that would normally attract expatriates. This oversupply has reduced average rent levels in Singapore for the past three years.”

In general, the costs of rental accommodation in Asian cities have risen in the past 12 months, with declines evident only in a handful of locations, such as Ho Chi Minh city, Jakarta and Yangon. 

Likewise, Kuala Lumpur’s fall down the rankings shows no signs of stopping. The Malaysian capital is now out of the Asian top 40 most expensive rental locations and more affordable than places such as Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Kathmandu, Nepal.

“The property market in Kuala Lumpur has suffered from high levels of speculation over the past couple of years and high levels of new construction. The market is oversupplied, and landlords are having to compete significantly on price to secure tenants,” Quane said. 

“The domestic economy has not been strong enough to bolster demand for the excess of higher-end properties on the market. However, a slowdown in property construction and cooling measures from the Malaysian central bank should see the market stabilise in future years,” he added.

2018 ranking
2017 ranking
Hong Kong


Notes to Editors

Figures used in this release were taken from ECA's September 2017 Accommodation Survey.
The survey was based on the average rental prices for an unfurnished, three-bedroom apartment in the mid-range of the expatriate market.

About ECA International (

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully-integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

ECA International's housing data

This ranking is based on data from ECA's accommodation reports, which we began publishing annually in 1996.

The reports provide comprehensive and reliable information for locations worldwide on the rental trends, types of accommodation and districts commonly sought by expatriates. To ensure impartiality and to maintain the accuracy of information, data from a number of sources is used to compile each accommodation report. ECA uses a global network of estate agents, relocation agents and extensive in-house research into worldwide property markets to establish and verify the housing data in the reports. Rental prices are collected annually. This housing data is also fed into ECA's Accommodation Tool which can be used to set, manage and review the right accommodation allowances for international assignees.

The rental prices were collected in September 2017 and have been converted into US dollars for ease of comparison using the September 2017 exchange rate.

For further information, please contact:

Lee Quane (Hong Kong)
ECA International
Regional Director - Asia
Tel: +852 2121 2388

Like this article? Share it... Twitter Facebook   LinkedIn