Bangkok becoming a pricier place for expats

Saw this in Coconuts Bangkok:

Bangkok has become a more expensive home for expats during the last 12 months according to a new study.

The Thai capital has jumped to the 147th most expensive destination globally in 2013, having been ranked at 162nd last year. 

The research, published by ECA International – a provider of solutions for the management and assignment of employees around the world – calculates the cost of living for expatriates and includes items such as food, drink, miscellaneous good and services, clothing, electrical good and dining out. Costs for accommodation, schooling and car purchases are not included in the study.

For the first time in three years, Tokyo is no longer the most expensive location for international assignees. The Japanese capital has been overtaken by Norway's capital, Oslo, and now lies in sixth place in the ranking. 

"Tokyo has always been an expensive place for global companies to send staff, and, despite its five-place fall since last year, that remains the case," said Lee Quane, ECA's Regional Director, Asia. 

"The significant depreciation of the Yen against other major currencies in recent months is the primary reason for this drop. It means that for many companies, the cost of maintaining their assignees’ purchasing power while posted there has fallen. But it's important not to exaggerate the position – Tokyo is still the world's sixth most expensive city, and the most expensive in Asia."

Within Asia, Japanese cities still dominate the top of the cost of living ranking; four of the region's top five most expensive locations are found there. 

Seoul joins them, having jumped from 7th to 3rd most expensive Asian location (and from 29th to 14th globally). Not only have the prices of goods and services there increased at a faster rate than the previous year, but the Won has also strengthened against major currencies thereby pushing up costs there for many international assignees.

Beijing (24th globally), Shanghai (26th), Singapore (36th) and Hong Kong (38th) complete the list of the top 10 most expensive locations in Asia. 

On average, prices of items in ECA's cost of living basket for Chinese locations have increased little or even seen small decreases this year. As a result, Chinese locations have fallen slightly down the ranking but the on-going strength of the Yuan against major currencies has prevented them from dropping too far.

Hong Kong, ranked 38th in the global list is 10th most expensive location in Asia. Prices of goods and services in ECA's cost of living basket have gone up approximately 4% over the year on average there. This is a slightly slower rate of increase than the year before when prices rose 6% on average. With the Hong Kong dollar pegged to a stable US dollar, the cost of living for assignees in the SAR has remained steady.

Indian locations continue to be among the region’s cheapest in terms of cost of living for international assignees. New Delhi, ranked 200th position globally is followed by Mumbai (215th).
Karachi, ranked 256th globally, is the least expensive Asian location for expatriates.

Bangkok (147th) remains a cheaper home for expats than Jakarta (127th) but more expensive than Yangon (176th) and Kuala Lumpur (182nd).

To anyone who lives here, this is no surprise.  For me, being from the US, the exchange rate has worsened over the years by about 50% since I first came here and by about a third in the last 10 years.  In addition, the price of goods in Thai baht has continued to go up.

The Thai government really needs to take heed of reports like this and think seriously if they want a strong baht.  Expats fuel this economy as do tourists.  If the baht keeps going up (in fact if it doesn't go down), people will move away from here and stop visiting here.  Once again Thailand will have shot itself in the foot.  Something they've become experts at.

I think if they would let the baht go to anywhere from 35 to 38 and keep it there with some QE measures, they would help the overall Thai economy and make things nicer for people like me and my family.

Do I expect it to happen?  NO.  Just like just about everything else here, the morons in government have no idea what they're doing.

Until next time, enjoy yourself!

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