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Hong Kong re-enters top five locations with highest expatriate packages

  • Hong Kong rose three places to fifth position in rankings.
  • Salary and benefits packages dropped by 2% in Hong Kong in 2022 despite the rise in ranking.
  • The UK is still the most expensive location to send expatriates, with the average expat pay and benefits package amounting to over USD 440 000.

Hong Kong, 26 July 2022 – Hong Kong is up three places to the fifth most expensive expatriate pay and benefits package in the world in 2022, despite a 2% decrease compared to 2021. The total value of a typical expat package now amounts to USD 278 020 (HKD 2 181 627) with the cost of salary and benefits dropping by USD 2 400 and USD 1 600 respectively. These were some of the findings of the latest MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey published annually by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

When considering the cost of an expatriate package, companies need to factor in three main elements: the cash salary, benefits – such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars – and tax. To assist companies relocating staff with benchmarking their packages against the market, ECA conducts its annual MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey of pay levels for expatriates around the world, including benefits, allowances, salary calculation methods and tax treatment.

“After experiencing a rise in total pay and benefits package costs in 2021, Hong Kong was on a downward trend again in 2022 due to lower salary costs.” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “The cost of benefits in Hong Kong remained unchanged in 2022, unlike many other countries which saw significant increases, so the fall in salaries caused the overall package value to drop. However, Hong Kong was helped by the strength of the Hong Kong dollar, causing it to rise three places in the rankings as other countries saw the value of the package drop as their currencies weakened.”

Asia Highlights

Contrary to last year, expat salaries in most locations in the region have decreased this year, resulting in a drop in the total pay and benefits package cost for more than half of the locations when measured in USD terms. Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan are among the countries experiencing this decline.

Unlike these locations, salary and benefits packages in Singapore increased in 2022, rising by 4% to USD 258 762. This pushed Singapore up six places to 16th in the global rankings and was primarily due to a 9% increase in the cost of benefits driven by higher rental costs, the highest in the region.

Quane said: “The surge in the cost in expatriate accommodation in Singapore is being felt by locals and expats alike, reflected in the 9% increase in the cost of benefits in expatriate packages when measured in USD terms. Only the fact that salaries fell by USD 4 000 prevented Singapore from climbing higher in the rankings.”

China retained its position as the location with the third-highest expatriate packages in the region after Japan and India, and ranked fourth globally. However, expat salaries in China dropped by 5% in 2022 when measured in USD terms. Quane explained: “The yuan strengthened against most major currencies compared to 2021 and as many expatriates are paid some or all of their salary in other currencies, this caused the average expat salary in yuan to fall.”

In Japan, pay and benefits packages for expats continued to rank as the second most expensive in the world, with a 5% increase in local currency terms. However, due to the weak Japanese yen, when measured in USD terms, the cost of salary, benefits and tax all experienced a double-digit percentage drop. As a result, the overall package is 12% cheaper than last year, costing USD 370 183.

As was the case last year, Malaysia has the lowest pay and benefits package in the region. The total package cost has decreased by 4% to USD 164 696, with salary costs dropping 6%.

Global Highlights

The UK is still the most expensive location to send expatriates, with the average expat pay and benefits package amounting to USD 441 608 in 2022, which is around the same cost than last year. Staff benefits increased 4% to USD 167 594 and are the most expensive in the world, with salary only making up around 18% of the total package.

The strength of the US dollar has pushed the United States up seven places in the rankings and into the global top 10. Despite a slight fall in salaries, the total package cost has risen by 6% to USD 272 770.

Quane said: "The strong dollar caused the average expatriate salary in the USA to fall as many expats in the country do not receive all of their salary in US dollars. However, higher housing costs contributed to a 10% increase in the cost of benefits, meaning companies will have found it more expensive to relocate staff to the United States in 2022."


Notes to Editors

The list of countries used in the rankings is based on countries which have cities appearing in the top 40 of The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI). The GFCI has been produced since 2007 by commercial think-tank the Z/Yen Group in order to examine the major financial centres globally in terms of competitiveness. It draws on data from the United Nations, World Bank and EIU as well as over 29,000 financial centre assessments from an online questionnaire.

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.

About ECA's MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey

ECA's MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey looks at pay levels for expatriates around the world, including information on benefits, allowances, salary calculation methods and tax treatment.

The results, free to participants, enable companies to benchmark their expatriates' actual salaries against the market. More than 340 companies took part in the survey covering over 140 countries and over 10 000 international assignees.

Figures used in this release were collected in the later stages of 2022 and refer to a Middle Manager position based on 80 ECA Points. ECA Points is a job evaluation system that measures the influence, scope and responsibilities of a job.

There are a number of ways in which salary packages for expatriates may be calculated. The information provided by participant companies in our survey relates to home and host-based salary systems as well as locally-hired and localised expatriates and expatriates on indefinite contracts.

Certain types of allowances are specifically excluded from the analysis in the reports. These are one-off payments such as allowances for outfit, furniture, disturbance and relocation.

Benefits values are based on standard ECA assumptions and have been derived from data in ECA's accommodation and benefits reports to provide an estimate of the cost of providing these benefits. The actual costs or allowances paid to cover these benefits vary widely according to each company's policy.

Tax figures used here refer to employee taxes and do not take company contributions into account. For ease of comparison, it is assumed that cash allowances are paid to employees to cover the cost of any benefits provided.

The accommodation figure is representative of the cost of housing two adults and one child. Utilities covers heat, light, water and telephone charges. Education assumes one child attending a local international school. The car figure covers annual running costs and is based on a standard cars value (2000 cc), depreciated over five years.

For further information, please contact:

Tweety Chan
Tel: +852 3002 3761 ext 3766

Cherie Cheung
Tel: +852 3002 3761 

Jenny Chiang

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