Top expat salaries in Asia revealed: Where does Singapore rank?

by Nicola Middlemiss11 May 2015
Singapore has dropped from sixth to seventh place in Asia Pacific for highest pay package levels, a new survey reveals.

According to the latest ECA Expatriate Market Pay Survey, the average expatriate middle manager in Singapore earns an average of US$259,000.

In contrast, expatriate managers in Japan get an average package worth US $375,000, placing the country in the lead for expatriate remuneration levels for the Asia Pacific region.

“The cost of providing certain benefits such as housing and education is the most expensive element of the pay package when relocating staff to Singapore,” ECA International Asia regional director Lee Quane said.

“Remove these and Singapore falls from 7th to 14th in the regional ranking thanks, too, to low tax rates.”

Elements of an expatriate package include the cash salary, benefits – such as accommodation and cars, and tax.

The most common approach in Singapore in determining a package was to use the employee’s salary in their home country as the starting point, then adjust for cost of living and tax, the report said.

“The rising cost of an expatriate package in Singapore will make some companies think twice about where they set up in the region,” Quane said. 

“However, the country’s reputation for providing an excellent quality of life is a big plus in terms of motivating employees to accept an assignment there.

“Furthermore, there are ways in which companies can contain costs – we see many revising housing allowances down or using an approach based around local salaries topped up with additional benefits rather than using the employee’s salary at home as a starting point.”

Meanwhile, China overtook Hong Kong in terms of expatriate remuneration last year, with the average package for an expatriate middle managers totalling over US$276,000.

Coming in at second place in the survey was Australia, followed by India, China and Hong Kong.

Malaysia has the second lowest expat packages in the rankings, one spot below Thailand.

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