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Dublin enters top five most expensive locations for expat rental accommodation in Europe

  • Dublin rental accommodation has climbed 35 places to 26th in the global rankings over the last 12 months (EUR 3 406pm)
  • The Irish capital has entered the top five in Europe for the first time – leading Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm in the rankings
  • The average cost for overseas workers to rent in Dublin has increased by EUR 277pm (8%) compared to 2018’s figure 

​Dublin has entered the top five most expensive locations in Europe for expat rental accommodation for the first time, making it costlier than other European capital cities such as Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm. The research published by global mobility expert, ECA International, reveals the average rental price for an unfurnished, mid-range, three-bedroom apartment has risen by EUR 277, an 8% increase on last year’s figure of EUR 3 129 a month.

“The past 10 years have seen a significant turnaround in the fortunes of Dublin’s residential rental market. The global financial crisis exposed a property bubble in the Irish capital and rents have increased significantly with each subsequent year of recovery. The cost of renting has also been affected by elevated demand from international companies relocating staff while looking to take advantage of Ireland’s low corporate tax rate,” said Alec Smith, Accommodation Services Manager, ECA International.

Although London remains the most expensive place for rental accommodation in the British Isles, Dublin has leaped 35 places to 26th in the global rankings. The only other locations to increase their ranking more than the Irish capital are Madrid (45 places), Lisbon (45 places) and Barcelona (40 places). 

“The Irish government has attempted to counter spiralling rent costs by introducing a number of Rent Pressure Zones which limit annual rent increases to 4%; however, in reality this has had limited success with landlords exploiting loopholes in the legislation, allowing them to increase above the rent cap,” added Smith.

Rents rise across the Eurozone

Rental costs across Europe rose significantly through 2018, due in part to the strength of the Euro. Whilst Dublin saw the biggest rises in expatriate rental costs in Europe, major cities such as Madrid, Rome, Paris and Barcelona all saw increases over USD 500.

In Spain, Madrid saw the average expatriate rent rise by USD 650 to USD 2 828 (EUR 2 299), whilst in Barcelona rent increased by USD 566 to USD 2521 (EUR 2 049).

Smith said “Madrid and Barcelona have reversed years of falling rents that followed in the wake of the global financial crisis. Their markets are flooded with renters, both from the local young professional population, and international assignees. Property purchase is now out of reach of the majority of city residents, keeping competition for tenancies high.”

Meanwhile in Paris, as the city continues to target attracting business due to Brexit, demand remains strong for property in the French capital and expatriate rent has risen to USD 4090 (EUR 3 324), an increase of over USD 700.

Hong Kong most expensive rent in the world

Elsewhere, Hong Kong remains the most expensive location in the world for expatriate rent, with typical expat accommodation averaging USD 10 929 per month. This is an increase of 4.9% from last year.

Smith explained: “Rents increased across Hong Kong during 2018 with limited availability, a long-term issue for the Hong Kong housing market, being the main driver. Rent increases are not just limited to central Hong Kong anymore either, with rents expected to rise throughout outlying neighbourhoods in 2019 too, as international firms seek more affordable office space and try to take advantage of cheaper suburbs.”

Rental accommodation cost in China drops in global ranking

Chinese cities endured a mixed fortune throughout 2018 with major rent increases seen in some locations, but static or decreasing levels of rent in others. Shanghai was the highest placed Chinese city and the eighth most expensive city for expats to rent in globally, averaging USD 5 305 a month.

Smith said: “With a new property tax mooted to be introduced in Shanghai from 2020, many landlords are now choosing to sell their properties rather than continuing to rent them out. This has led to a reduction in the availability of rented accommodation, prompting some rent increases.”

New York retains second spot despite rents dropping

New York remains the second most expensive city in the world for overseas workers to rent in, and by far the most expensive location in the Americas. However, rental costs have dropped by over USD 250 since last year, as demand dropped slightly. 

Smith explained “2018 saw the market delivery of a large number of newly constructed rental properties. This eased issues with low vacancy rates that normally apply in New York, leading to some modest decreases in average rents.”


Notes to Editors

  • The survey was based on the average rental prices for a three-bedroom apartment in the mid-range of the expatriate market
  • Figures used in this release were taken from ECA's 2018 Accommodation Survey
  • The rental prices were collected in 2018 and have been converted into US dollars and/or Pound Sterling for ease of comparison, using 2018 exchange rates.

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.

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