Vienna is the best place in the world to live if you are an expat, followed by Zurich and Geneva with Europe judged to have the best quality of living, according to a new report.
Outside of Europe Canada and New Zealand are judged great places to live with Vancouver and Auckland in joint fourth place, the 2010 Quality of Living Survey from Mercer Consulting shows.
Europe though still dominates the list with seven cities in the top ten of the survey which is compiled to help employers compare countries so they can assess hardship allowances for expat workers fairly when placing them on international assignments.
The survey measures 39 factors, including political stability, crime, currency exchange, personal freedom and health and sanitation and looks at 225 cities worldwide.
The top US cities were Honolulu at 31 and San Francisco at 32. Singapore is the top Asian City, placed 28th and Dubai was judged the best in the Middle East at 75.
‘Cities in many emerging markets, such as the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees so quality of living and hardship premiums remain important means of compensating expatriates for differences in living conditions,’ said Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer.
This year’s survey also ranked cities according to their eco-friendly credentials including water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion.
Calgary topped the eco index, followed by Honolulu, Ottawa and Helsinki. Port-au-Prince in Haiti was at the bottom of this table.
‘A high-ranking eco-city optimises its use of renewable energy sources and generates the lowest possible quantity of pollution in terms of air, water, noise, etc. A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants. As a consequence these are also pertinent issues for companies that send employees and their families on long-term assignments abroad, especially considering the vast majority of expatriates are relocated to urban areas,’ said Parakatil.
‘A certain standard of sustainability is essential for city living and forms a very important part of its inhabitants’ quality of living. Though a high standard of living may be taken for granted in certain cities, a lack thereof is much more noticeable and can even lead to severe hardship,’ he added.
Overall the survey shows that the quality of living standards remained relatively stable on a global level throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010, but in certain regions and countries the economic recession had a noticeable impact on the business climate.
‘Quality of living declined in a few countries in Asia between the start of 2009 and 2010. Increasing threats of violence and terrorism, coupled with natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and cyclones have had a negative impact on the quality of living in Asian cities. This may result in higher hardship allowances for expatriates sent to these countries,’ explained Parakatil.
At the bottom of the table were Baghdad, Bangui in the Central African Republic and Ndjamena in Chad.