Singapore leads Asian cities, and 25th in the world, in offering expatriates world-class living standards and working conditions, Mercer’s 2012 Quality of Living Survey has found.
Singapore is followed by Japanese cities Tokyo (44), Kobe (48), Yokohama (49) and Osaka (57). Hong Kong (70), Seoul (75), Kuala Lumpur (80), Taipei (85) and Shanghai (95) are other major Asian cities ranked in the top 100.
The region’s lowest-ranking cities are Dhaka, Bangladesh (203); Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (204); and Dushanbe, Tajikistan (207).
For city infrastructure, Singapore has the highest ranking worldwide followed by Hong Kong (6), Sydney (8), Perth (25), Tokyo (32) and Melbourne (34). Adelaide and Brisbane both ranked 37. Nagoya (41), Auckland (43), Kobe (44), Wellington (48), Seoul (50) and Osaka (51) are the next highest-ranking cities in this region. The region’s lowest-ranking city for city infrastructure is Dhaka, Bangladesh (205).
“A noticeable gap can be seen among Asia Pacific cities where several cities have improved in the region partly because they have been investing massively in infrastructure and public services,” says Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer. Competition among municipalities has been continuously increasing in order to attract multinationals, foreigners, expatriates and tourists. Yet a considerable number of Asian cities rank in the bottom quartile, mainly due to high political volatility, poor infrastructure and obsolete public services.”
Globally, Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer survey.
Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively, and Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which ranked fifth. Düsseldorf dropped one spot to rank sixth followed by Frankfurt in seventh, Geneva in eighth, Copenhagen in ninth, and Bern and Sydney tied for tenth place.
The cities with the lowest quality of living are Khartoum, Sudan (217); N’Djamena, Chad (218); Port-au-Prince, Haiti (219); and Bangui, Central African Republic (220). Baghdad, Iraq (221) ranks last.
This year’s ranking separately identifies the cities with the best infrastructure based on electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transportation, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports. Singapore is at the top of this index, followed by Frankfurt and Munich in second place. Copenhagen (4) and Dusseldorf (5) fill the next two slots, while Hong Kong and London share sixth place. Port-au-Prince (221) ranks at the bottom of the list.
“In order for multinational companies to ensure their expatriates are compensated appropriately and an adequate hardship allowance is included in compensation packages, they must be aware of current events and local circumstances,” says Parakatil.
Parakatil notes that factors such as internal stability, law enforcement effectiveness, crime levels and medical facilities are important to consider when deciding on an international assignment, and the impact on daily life that could be encountered by the expatriate in overseas placements.
“Infrastructure has a significant effect on the quality of living that expatriates experience. While often taken for granted when functioning to a high standard, a city’s infrastructure can generate severe hardship when it is deficient. Companies need to provide adequate allowances to compensate their international workers for these and other hardships," says Parakatil.