Japan has overtaken the UK as the world’s most expensive place to base expatriate workers, according to a new report.

The average annual cost to employers of a mid-level expatriate worker in Japan has reached $ 405,685, according to the latest “My Expatriate Market Pay” report produced by the international assignment firm ECA International, which focuses on the costs of expatriates in Asia and is based on the 2020 survey.The costs of the survey are based on three main elements: salary in cash; benefits such as accommodation, international schools, utilities and transport; and tax.Analyzing data from last year, the report found that, apart from Japan, costs in many Asian countries had fallen, falling just over $ 5,000 in Hong Kong last year, although the city remains one of the top five most expensive locations in the world for overseas missions.The overall cost of an average salary package for an expat in Hong Kong was $ 279,399, although the cash portion of the package remained largely unchanged.“The cost of hiring an expat in Hong Kong was lower in 2020 compared to previous years, but this indicates a much larger global trend that we have seen in many countries around the world in 2020,” said Lee Quane , Regional Director for Asia at ECA International. .

“The continued effects of Covid-19 have been felt by many major economies in 2020, meaning the cost of total expatriate compensation packages has fallen in more than half of the countries included in our rankings.“The cash wages of expatriates in Hong Kong increased by less than 1%, while employers were also able to benefit from lower accommodation costs in Hong Kong and reduce the value of financial housing assistance compared to that provided to the predecessors of these expatriates. “There were similar declines in packages for expats in Singapore, where the average package fell by $ 7,284, with salaries down $ 1,169 on average. The good news for expatriate workers is that, despite the drop, cash wages paid to expatriate employees in Singapore are the fifth highest in the world, while the total cost of the package is only the 17th most expensive in our time. ranking, ”Quane said.“This means that it is relatively cheaper for a company to employ expatriate staff in Singapore compared to elsewhere, when these employees still earn comparatively higher wages than in many other locations. “One of the biggest declines in expatriate pay was seen in Thailand, where the average value of pay and benefits for overseas staff fell to just under $ 18,000, but Taiwan has reversed the trend, with the overall cost of remunerations increasing as the island entered. the ten most expensive locations in the world.But in mainland China, expatriate wages fell on average by $ 17,762, with cash wages falling by nearly $ 3,000 between 2019-2020.“All aspects of the overall wages have gone down for expatriate workers in China,” Quane said. “The sharp drop in employee benefit costs is mainly due to falling rents at the expat level in many Tier 1 Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, which has caused China to fall behind. India in the world ranking. “

More with ECA International:

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to receive all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new global mobility toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Resource center for downloading fact sheets on the Global Mobility ToolkitAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our online directory