Consulting firm Mercer has announced on Tuesday (14 March) the result of the 19th Quality of Living survey which concluded that Singapore is the 25th country in the world and the first in Asia as the best place to live for expatriates, saying that Singapore is a country where there is a great disparity in quality of living.
Western European cities continue to surpass the rest of the world when it comes to expatriate quality of living, by taking eight of the top spots in Mercer’s annual ranking.
For eight year in a row, Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, was ranked the best place to live in the world for expatriates.
On the other end of the spectrum, Baghdad, Iraq, is concluded as the worst place to live as it was considered as an unsafe and war-torn city.
In Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur, ranked 86th, follows Singapore.
While, other key cities include Bangkok, ranked 131th, Manila, ranked 135th, and Jakarta, ranked 143rd. Five Japanese cities top the ranking for East Asia, which is Tokyo, ranked 47th, Kobe, ranked 50th, Yokohama, ranked 51st, Osaka, ranked 60th, and Nagoya, ranked 63rd.
Mercer’s survey also includes a city infrastructure ranking that assesses each city’s supply of electricity, drinking water, telephone and mail services, and public transportation as well as traffic congestion and the range of international flights available from local airports.
It stated that Singapore tops the city infrastructure ranking, followed by Frankfurt and Munich both in 2nd place.
Baghdad and Port au Prince rank last for city infrastructure.
In North America, Canadian cities take the top positions in the ranking. Vancouver, in the fifth place, is again the region’s highest-ranking city for quality of living.
Toronto and Ottawa follow in 16th and 18th place respectively, whereas San Francisco, ranked 29th, is the highest ranking US city, followed by Boston, 35th place, Honolulu, 36th place, New York, 44th place, and Seattle, 45th place.
Dubai, ranked 74th, continues to rank highest for quality of living across Africa and the Middle East, rising one position in this year’s ranking, followed closely by Abu Dhabi, ranked 79th.
According to Mercer, it evaluates local living conditions in more than 450 cities surveyed worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).
- Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).
- Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).
- Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).
- Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools).
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).
- Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).
Mercer said that the scores attributed to each factor, which is weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, permit objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a quality of living index that compares relative differences between any two locations evaluated.
For the indices to be used effectively, Mercer stated that it has created a grid that enables users to link the resulting index to a quality of living allowance amount by recommending a percentage value in relation to the index.
Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer and responsible for its quality of living research, said, “The success of foreign assignments is influenced by issues such as ease of travel and communication, sanitation standards, personal safety, and access to public services. Multinational companies need accurate and timely information to help calculate fair and consistent expatriate compensation – a real challenge in locations with a compromised quality of living.”
“A city’s infrastructure, or rather the lack thereof, can considerably affect the quality of living that expatriates and their families experience on a daily basis. Access to a variety of transport options, being connected locally and internationally, and access to electricity and drinkable water are among the essential needs of expatriates arriving in a new location on assignment. A well-developed infrastructure can also be a key competitive advantage for cities and municipalities trying to attract multinational companies, talent, and foreign investments,” he added.