A survey has found that expatriates in key Asian cities are feeling the squeeze from the weak US dollar, which has pushed up their daily living expenses.
From grocery shopping to restaurant meals, expatriates have seen their purchasing power shrink as the greenback continues to slide, human resources consultancy ECA International said in its twice-yearly cost of living report.
The report found foreigners living in Japan were the hardest hit in Asia given the current strength of the yen.
"A lot of locations whose currencies are not pegged against the US dollar ... have risen in our (cost) rankings over the course of the last 12 months," said Lee Quane, ECA International's regional director based in Hong Kong.
Those who have moved to places such as Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea will require higher cost of living allowances in order to maintain the same purchasing power they had last year, he told AFP.
"Japan remains the most expensive location in Asia largely because of the strength of the yen," said Lee. The dollar recently hit 14-year lows against the Japanese unit.
ECA International's survey measures the cost of a basket of 125 items purchased by expats in over 390 locations globally.
The costs of the items, including groceries, clothing and miscellaneous purchases, are converted into US dollars to make a standard comparison.
They do not include housing, car and schooling expenses.
The four costliest Asian cities were all in Japan, with Tokyo most expensive, Yokohama ranked second followed by Nagoya and Kobe.
Hong Kong placed fifth in Asia followed by Shanghai, with Seoul, Beijing, Singapore and Taipei rounding up ECA International's top 10 costliest locations in the region in 2009.
On a global scale, Hong Kong's currency peg to the US dollar meant expat living costs decreased, with the Chinese territory's position on ECA International's global ranking tumbling to 51st this year, from 33rd in 2008.
Globally, the most expensive city for expatriates was Luanda because of the Angolan capital's damaged infrastructure, followed in the top 10 by Tokyo, Oslo, Copenhagen, Yokohama, Stavanger in Norway, Nagoya, Geneva and Zurich.