Hong Kong ex-pat remuneration rises significantly says ECA pay survey.

Study finds UK more expensive than Japan.

The latest MyExpatriate Market Pay survey published annually by ECA International has found Hong Kong expatriate pay packages continued to grow in 2018. According to the company, the average package now costs companies US$276,417 including an average cash salary of US$86,984.

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. The annual MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey records pay levels for expatriates around the world to provide a guide for those locating staff abroad.

“After a slight drop in the average expat salary in 2017, the overall pay package for overseas workers in Hong Kong increased significantly in 2018” said Lee Quane, regional director – Asia at ECA International. “Salaries rose slightly by an average of just over US$1,500 whilst benefits, including extras on top of the basic salary such as school fees or transportation costs, increased by over US$6,000. The benefits offered as part of an expat’s pay package have always been high in Hong Kong as it continues to be attractive to companies and expats alike. This high demand results in expat-level accommodation, international schooling and other costs being significantly more expensive than most other locations.”

Elsewhere in Asia, salaries increased for expats in Singapore by an average of US$4,874. The overall pay package rose by over US$13,000 to a total of US$236,258, but Singapore sits in just 19th place in the 40-country list due to the low personal tax rates, making it a less expensive location for expatriates overall.

Quane said: “Expat pay packages in Singapore increased across the board in 2018, with salaries increasing by nearly US$5,000 and benefits going up US$6,400 on average. However, personal tax only increased minimally, and tax-related costs still remain extremely low compared to most other locations included in our rankings, meaning that overall Singapore sits in 19th place. This is good news for companies with workers currently living in Singapore though, with cash salary and benefits remaining relatively high, and taxes staying low – resulting in less expense for employers when relocating staff to the country.”

Japan is no longer the most expensive location in the world to send expats, after being overtaken in the rankings by the United Kingdom.

“Despite an increase of over US$30,000 to the average expat pay package from 2017, Japan has dropped back into second place in our rankings after overtaking the UK in 2017. Sending a mid-level overseas worker to Japan would now cost US$386,451, still US$35,347 behind the total cost of sending an expat to the UK. However, the pay package for an expat in Japan still increased by about 8.5 per cent from last year and would most likely still be at the top of the rankings if not for the major rise in accommodation costs in the UK last year” explained Quane.

The pay and benefits package of an expat living and working in China saw a significant rebound last year, after falling in 2017. The average package is now valued at US$310 204, an increase of over US$33,000 and pushes China up one place in the rankings to third.

Quane commented: “Expats in China have seen a big jump after a bad year in 2017 that saw the value of the average package drop in all areas. The Chinese yuan experienced a better year in 2018 though and due to a stronger economy and currency, the pay package for overseas workers in Chinese locations has improved considerably.”

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