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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Hong Kong and Singapore see luxury rents fall

Two of the most expensive cities in Asia for apartment rental – Hong Kong and Singapore – are seeing the cost of living in luxury homes drop.

This is the third consecutive year that rental prices have declined, due to expatriate workers seeing their budgets cut, reports Bloomberg.

Several of the big banks in the region are decreasing their numbers of investment banking positions as a result of China's slowing economy and employees are seeing their expenses being scaled back.

A survey by Employment Conditions Abroad Ltd in January showed that Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore were the most costly places in Asia for expat accommodation, but this is changing, with prices for high-end apartments expected to fall further.

Simon Smith, senior director of research and consultancy at Savills, told the news provider: "We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of the softening rental demand. We're still seeing a lot of turmoil in the financial services sector."

The standard housing allowance for expat investment bankers in Hong Kong currently stands at between HK$50,000 and HK$80,000 (£3,988 – £6,380) a month. Prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, this stood at HK$60,000 to HK$100,000.

The situation is not dissimilar in Singapore, where housing budgets hit S$4,000 to S$5,000 (£1,997 – £2,497) a year ago, but are now around S$2,500 to S$3,500.

As a result of these cuts, more people are moving away from the three main areas in Hong Kong and living in places that are cheaper because they are not in close proximity with the commercial district.

Much of the demand for high-end accommodation has traditionally been driven by the banking sector and fewer jobs and lower budgets means prices are having to keep pace with this trend.

Mark Enticott, managing director at Ambition Group, said: "There has been a substantial reduction in expat packages over the last three years with many banks removing housing allowances.

"When an expat's package is localised or the company has reduced the housing allowance, we have seen people move to cheaper housing arrangements."

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