Expat rents are down across Asia with noticeable declines recorded in Bangkok, Hanoi and Singapore last year. According to research from ECA International, expat executive standard accommodation rents in locations reliant on overseas tourism were impacted the most due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Rental prices have dropped in many locations across Asia over the past year, but this has been especially notable in locations which are heavily reliant on overseas visitors and residents, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Average rents in Bangkok have dropped by over 12 percent in just one year, while Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have seen a negative swing of nine percent and six percent respectively,” Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International explained.

He continued, “The rental market in these locations is heavily tied to the fortunes of the tourism industry, and landlords who previously rented out accommodation on a short-term basis, have since converted these to long-term leases – thus increasing supply and reducing market rents further. Therefore, it is unlikely that we will see a change to this trend until international travel is fully open again.”

Singapore remains the most expensive rental market for expats in Southeast Asia, although prices here only declined by slightly more than two percent in 2020. The dip halts several years of expat rent increases in the city-state.

“Rent levels in Singapore are always notably stable and this year is no different, with the country seeing only a slight dip in market rents,” Quane stated. “This is likely the consequence of COVID-19’s impact on the wider economy in Singapore. Moreover, with greater immigration restrictions for overseas workers set in place, this has suppressed the demand for accommodation in the country this year.”

Hong Kong was most expensive location in Asia for expat rents once again followed by Tokyo, Shanghai, Yokohama and Seoul. In the global rankings, expat rents in Singapore were 26th most expensive while Bangkok ranked 49th and Hanoi finished 81st.