Q.2 2022

Data Points

A Selection of AIRINC Research Results

This quarter’s cost of living research was conducted primarily in Europe, Asia, and mainland Southeast Asia.

Housing Update

Snapshots of expatriate-quality rental markets around the world

Warsaw, Poland

Yerevan, Armenia

Tbilisi, Georgia

Hong Kong

New Delhi, India

Tokyo, Japan

Warsaw, Poland

The rental market in Warsaw has been hectic over the past 3 months, ever since the Russian-Ukrainian war escalated. Rental inflation is up, and the highest inflation is happening in the more central areas. There has been an influx of refugees and companies from both Ukraine and Russia relocating to Warsaw, which is causing a major spike in demand across properties of all income levels. The rental market in Warsaw was stagnant for about two years due to COVID-19, but now the economy has been forced to reopen. Properties that are listed on the market can rent in minutes. In general, tenants are forced to compromise when it comes to finding their ideal property. Certain property types, such as larger apartments in the city center and family homes in Konstancin, are in especially high demand and many prospective tenants are outbidding each other for rental properties. Vacancy rates for all property types decreased significantly.

Yerevan, Armenia

Average rents in Yerevan increased dramatically over the past six months. These increases are almost entirely attributed to the Russian-Ukrainian war as thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have been moving to Yerevan in recent months. Many Russian technology companies and their employees have been moving into Yerevan amidst the political instability. Sources noted that most incoming tenants are signing short term leases, typically for 3 or 6 months, though it is unclear how long most people intend to stay. Rent costs and demand are both rising significantly, and the overall vacancy rate has dropped. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a property, whether it be residential or commercial office space.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Rents dropped during the pandemic, but the Russian-Ukrainian war changed that significantly. Availability is extremely low, especially for highly requested apartments like 1 and 3 bedrooms. The market is up and unstable as no one knows what will happen. Much of it depends on the war, how long will it last, and if people leave or stay when it’s over. There is high demand as people come in from Russia, Ukraine, as well as tourists, and other Europeans coming in. As those fleeing war continue to arrive, they are taking up six-month rental contracts instead of the typical one year because they are waiting to see what will happen. In addition, many offices relocated to Georgia, especially for IT companies. Moreover, there are also Georgians repatriating who had been living and working in Russia prior to the war.

Hong Kong

Rents dropped as strict pandemic containment measures combined with the uncertainty of the incoming chief executive has caused some companies to relocate to Singapore leading to decreased demand for rentals. Given the underlying market uncertainties, a growing number of landlords have decided to put their properties up for sale even with the existing tenancies. Some landlords even offer real estate agents double commissions to help them find good tenants, while some landlords renovate and upgrade their properties to wait and see when they can find tenants.

New Delhi, India

New Delhi rents continue to rebound from a short pandemic slump and rents in prime expat areas have returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Farmhouses are especially in demand and overall availability has decreased. Gurgaon, a major satellite city of New Delhi, has also seen increasing rents with limited supply and high demand.

Tokyo, Japan

After a long period of stable rents, all sources agree that demand is up and supply is tight in Tokyo. Global supply chain issues are making new construction and renovations much more costly. Competition for housing is coming from Japanese nationals as well as expats whose numbers are increasing again now that the border has reopened. There is no negotiation on asking rents.

Goods and Services Update

Highlights from AIRINC’s in-depth research
Russia-Ukraine War’s Effect On Global Food Supply
Impact of Singapore’s Vehicle Quota System and Certificate of Entitlement

The war in Ukraine continues to undermine the global food supply. Russia and Ukraine produce and sell approximately 30% of the global wheat supply and Ukraine provides approximately 40% of the world’s sunflower oil. The disruption caused by the crisis has led to a series of protectionist export bans in countries concerned about their own dwindling supply of foodstuffs and an inability to provide for the populace as importing becomes more difficult and expensive. The bans have disrupted the global food chain, including bans on exporting Indian wheat, Malaysian chickens, and Indonesian palm oil, to name a few. While some of these cases are true (though temporary) export bans, others are an increase in tax or other transaction costs meant to heavily disincentivize exporting. Many of the countries enacting these bans have been heavily affected by the decrease in Ukrainian and Russian foodstuffs but are also further subject to disrupted agriculture at home: for example, India’s decision to reduce its wheat exports was influenced by recent extreme heat waves, which significantly affected their yield.

Singapore can be one of the most expensive places in the world to purchase a vehicle because of the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which is required for purchasing a car and allows for ownership for a period of ten years. Singapore uses a Vehicle Quota System (VQS) to determine the number of COEs made available to the public. The VQS uses several factors to determine the quota, including the number of vehicles removed from the road, allowable growth, expiration of existing COEs, vehicle type, etc.

This system allows Singapore to strictly control the number of vehicles on the road to avoid overburdening its infrastructure and to keep traffic in check. When COEs are made available, they are then bid upon, with the bids determining the final price. When demand is high, the price for a COE can be very high, often exceeding the value of the car itself. Because of the unpredictability of the process, the total purchase price of a car can be highly variable.

AIRINC has seen the purchase price of cars in Singapore increase significantly over the past year, mainly because of increasing COE prices. Parts of 2019 and 2020 saw some of the lowest COE prices in the past decade; however, prices have been increasing since late 2020. For example, a COE for a category A car (up to 1600 cc) cost 38,504 SGD on September 23rd, 2020, but 68,001 SGD today, an increase of over 75%.

Factors that impact supply and demand have played a role in this increase, including Singapore’s zero growth policy for cars and motorcycles, which is in effect until 2025 and maintains the current number of cars and motorcycles on the road. This has limited the number of COEs that become available.

Goods and Services Inflation

Selected locations with inflation higher than 5% for 6 months
Azerbaijan
Bulgaria
Czechia
Georgia
Hungary
Italy
Kazakhstan
Pakistan
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Slovakia
Turkey
United Kingdom

Selected 3-month Exchange Rate fluctuations of more than 5%

Zimbabwe

Currency: ZWL

Change vs EUR: -57.8%

Change vs USD: -59.6%

Sri Lanka

Currency: LKR

Change vs EUR: -28.9%

Change vs USD: -31.8%

Laos

Currency: LAK

Change vs EUR: -17.6%

Change vs USD: -21.1%

Venezuela

Currency: VES

Change vs EUR: -17.3%

Change vs USD: -20.8%

Malawi

Currency: MWK

Change vs EUR: -16.9%

Change vs USD: -20.4%

Lebanon

Currency: LBP

Change vs EUR: -12.7%

Change vs USD: -16.6%

Egypt

Currency: EGP

Change vs EUR: -12.3%

Change vs USD: -16.0%

Turkey

Currency: TRY

Change vs EUR: -10.9%

Change vs USD: -14.7%

Sudan

Currency: SDG

Change vs EUR: -10.4%

Change vs USD: -14.3%

Pakistan

Currency: PKR

Change vs EUR: -8.7%

Change vs USD: -12.5%

Japan

Currency: JPY

Change vs EUR: -8.1%

Change vs USD: -12.0%

Sierra Leone

Currency: SLL

Change vs EUR: -7.4%

Change vs USD: -11.3%

South Sudan

Currency: SSP

Change vs EUR: -7.2%

Change vs USD: -10.9%

Argentina

Currency: ARS

Change vs EUR: -6.8%

Change vs USD: -10.7%

Ghana

Currency: GHS

Change vs EUR: -6.4%

Change vs USD: -10.3%

Hungary

Currency: HUF

Change vs EUR: -5.3%

Change vs USD: -9.3%

Norway

Currency: NOK

Change vs EUR: -4.4%

Change vs USD: -8.4%

Mongolia

Currency: MNT

Change vs EUR: -3.7%

Change vs USD: -7.7%

Bangladesh

Currency: BDT

Change vs EUR: -2.9%

Change vs USD: -6.9%

Haiti

Currency: HTG

Change vs EUR: -2.5%

Change vs USD: -6.6%

New Zealand

Currency: NZD

Change vs EUR: -2.5%

Change vs USD: -6.5%

United Kingdom

Currency: GBP

Change vs EUR: -2.3%

Change vs USD: -6.4%

Costa Rica

Currency: CRC

Change vs EUR: -1.7%

Change vs USD: -5.7%

China

Currency: CNY

Change vs EUR: -1.4%

Change vs USD: -5.5%

Chile

Currency: CLP

Change vs EUR: -1.0%

Change vs USD: -5.2%

Suriname

Currency: SRD

Change vs EUR: -0.9%

Change vs USD: -5.1%

Switzerland

Currency: CHF

Change vs EUR: -0.9%

Change vs USD: -5.0%

Paraguay

Currency: PYG

Change vs EUR: 6.1%

Change vs USD: 1.6%

Brazil

Currency: BRL

Change vs EUR: 6.5%

Change vs USD: 2.0%

Guinea

Currency: GNF

Change vs EUR: 6.7%

Change vs USD: 2.2%

Seychelles

Currency: SCR

Change vs EUR: 6.7%

Change vs USD: 2.3%

Mexico

Currency: MXN

Change vs EUR: 8.0%

Change vs USD: 3.5%

Zambia

Currency: ZMW

Change vs EUR: 10.4%

Change vs USD: 0.0%

Uruguay

Currency: UYU

Change vs EUR: 11.9%

Change vs USD: 7.0%

Georgia

Currency: GEL

Change vs EUR: 15.1%

Change vs USD: 10.4%

Angola

Currency: AOA

Change vs EUR: 15.2%

Change vs USD: 10.4%

Tajikistan

Currency: TJS

Change vs EUR: 18.1%

Change vs USD: 13.0%

Kazakhstan

Currency: KZT

Change vs EUR: 21.6%

Change vs USD: 16.3%

Armenia

Currency: AMD

Change vs EUR: 23.6%

Change vs USD: 18.3%

Kyrgyzstan

Currency: KGS

Change vs EUR: 30.3%

Change vs USD: 24.9%

Russia

Currency: RUB

Change vs EUR: 101.4%

Change vs USD: 92.9%

Country
Tax Update

Changes in expatriate tax

Australia

Belarus

El Salvador

Lithuania

Malaysia

Poland

Slovenia

Sri Lanka

Venezuela

Tax blog post on Ukraine

Australia

Family allowances increased slightly. Tax rates and brackets are unchanged. The Low- and Middle-Income Tax Offset (LMITO) expired for the 2022/2023 tax year. The Low-Income Tax Offset (LITO) is unchanged. The net effect is a small increase in income tax for taxpayers with income below AUD 126,000. Employees do not have compulsory contributions to social security (superannuation). However, the employer superannuation rate increased from 10% to 10.5% for the 2022/2023 tax year, and the maximum annual contribution increased from AUD 23,568 to AUD 25,292. The superannuation rate is scheduled to incrementally increase by 0.5% every year until it is 12% by July 1, 2025.

Belarus

The personal allowances for low-income taxpayers, dependent children, and non-working spouses were adjusted for inflation. The maximum annual social security contribution increased slightly. The net effect is a small decrease in income tax for most taxpayers and a small increase in social security for higher income taxpayers.

Belarus will introduce a new voluntary pension scheme on October 1, 2022. The program is reserved to employees that have at least 3 more years before mandatory retirement age (63 years for men and 58 years for women). Employees may elect to contribute up to 10% of their salaries into the scheme in addition to the mandatory 1% social security contribution. Employee contributions are tax deductible. The employer is also expected to make contributions to the voluntary scheme at 3% of salary, but overall the employer contributions to the voluntary and mandatory pension schemes are limited to 34% of salary.

El Salvador

The Large Taxpayers Special Contribution for National Security on incomes exceeding USD 500,000 was abolished. Social security and income tax rates are unchanged. The net effect is a reduction in tax on incomes exceeding USD 500,000.

Lithuania

Tax changes were implemented in Lithuania for 2022 that modify the tax-exempt amount formula and reduces the tax bracket subject to the top marginal tax rate of 32%. The deduction for home repair, car repair, and childcare expenses expired at the end of 2021. The maximum for social security contributions increased. The net effect is an increase in social security contributions for high income taxpayers. The net effect on tax varies by income level, with a small increase in tax at lower incomes and a small decrease in tax at higher incomes.

Malaysia

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malaysian Government temporarily reduced the employee provident fund contribution rate from 11% to 7% for the period April 1 – December 31, 2020. Continuing with the relief, the rate for the period of January 1 – June 30, 2022 will be 9%. The normal rate of 11% is scheduled to apply as of July 1, 2022. AIRINC implemented the 9% rate for the period beginning January 1, 2022. A second update is planned for July 1, 2022 to reflect the EPF rate of 11%. Small changes in social security maximums have been implemented for 2022. The net effect is a small decrease in social security and income tax.

Poland

UPDATE May 31, 2022: Poland amended certain provisions of the 2022 ‘Polish Deal’ tax reform. The key provision impacting individuals is a tax rate reduction from 17% to 12% for the middle tax bracket on incomes between 30,000 and 120,000. The tax rate cut is retroactively effective from January 1, 2022. The net effect is a reduction in tax for most incomes.

Slovenia

The general allowance and allowances for dependents increased. The top marginal rate decreased from 50% to 45%. Social security contributions are unchanged. The net effect is a decrease in tax.

Sri Lanka

There currently are no changes in the income taxation of employment income for 2022. However, the government announced proposed tax changes to boost government revenues. Among the proposals are several provisions impacting individuals, including a reduction in the personal allowance, and increasing the tax rates (from 6% – 18% to 4% – 32%). PAYE withholding on employment income will again be mandatory. The proposed changes will be effective from October 1, 2022. AIRINC will release a second 2022 update for Sri Lanka as of the October effective date.

Venezuela

The tax system is determined by reference to the Tax Unit Value (TUV) and the Monthly Minimum Salary (MMS). These factors allow the tax system to keep pace with inflation and are used to set the tax brackets, lump-sum deduction, tax credits, and annual maximum contributions to social security. The most recent adjustment to the TUV was published April 20, 2022, increasing the TUV from VES 0.02 to VES 0.4. The 2022 MMS is VES 130. The net effect of these changes is an increase in social security contributions and a decrease in tax.

Research Location Update

Q.2 2022 Researched Locations and Upcoming Q.3 2022 Locations

AIRINC researches more than 150 locations each quarter.

Q.2 2022 Researched Locations
Q.3 2022 Upcoming Locations

White Papers & Articles

Mobility Optimization Paper

In this period of transition and reinvention, many companies are reorganizing their Mobility functions to address changes to their business or talent environments. We recently interviewed six Mobility leaders to learn how they are optimizing their Mobility functions. Everyone agreed that an optimized Mobility function is one that adds value to the organization by offering customers the right balance of skillsets and resources.

White Papers & Articles

Developmental Assignments & the Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Many mechanics of a developmental assignment are like that of a traditional expat assignment. Tax equalization, immigration support, and a COLA are commonly provided for both move types. However, developmental assignments target a specific type of employee: emerging talent, typically below age 35, that shows growth potential to the business.

Benchmark Surveys

2022 Mobility Outlook Survey

Global Mobility has emerged from the pandemic as a remarkably different function. After a second year managing travel restrictions, heightened immigration complexity, and remote work consequences, Mobility has honed its compliance skills and is shifting focus to address its next big challenge – helping attract and retain top talent.

White Papers & Articles

2022 Remote Work Playbook

In our first version of this playbook published in 2020, it was not clear if the rise of remote working would continue or only be a temporary pandemic phenomenon. It is now clear that remote work is here to stay.

For More Information

Please contact your Client Services representative for more details and further information.

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