Vienna Tops Annual Rankings of Best Quality of Living for Expats

by Ray Clancy on March 5, 2015

Vienna has the world’s best quality of living, according to the latest quality of living rankings report from global firm Mercer which covers 230 cities worldwide.

Overall, European cities dominate the top of the ranking along with major cities in Australia and New Zealand. Zurich, Auckland, and Munich are in second, third, and fourth places respectively.

VISAaustria200In fifth place, Vancouver is the highest ranking city in North America and the region’s only city in the top 10. Singapore at 26 is the highest ranking Asian city, while at 74 Dubai is top in the Middle East and Africa region and Montevideo in Uruguay at 78 takes the top spot for South America.

‘Taking a short or long term work assignment in a new country is both an exciting and challenging experience for employees and their families,’ said Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer, adding that they need to contents with different cultures, societies, and comparatively different climates.

Expats might also have to deal with political instability, high crime rates, and poor infrastructure, all of which can be difficult to navigate and settle down in for employees and their families.

‘Employers need to assess whether their staff and families will encounter any drop in quality of living when relocating and ensure they are fairly compensated for it,’ explained Parakatil.

Despite concerns about economic growth, the cities of Western Europe continue to offer a stable environment for employees and employers. Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva and Copenhagen are all in the top 10.

The lowest ranking cities in Western Europe are Belfast at 63 and Athens at 85 while cities in Central and Eastern Europe have a wider range of quality of living standards. The highest ranking cities are Prague at 68, and Budapest, and Ljubljana, both ranked at 75.

In the UK, London at 40 is the highest ranking city, followed by Birmingham at 52, Glasgow at 55, and Aberdeen at 57. ‘UK cities overall enjoy high standards of quality of living and remain stable and attractive locations for businesses,’ said Ellyn Karetnick, principal at Mercer.

‘Security has been tightened in many major European cities following the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, and Mercer is closely monitoring any potential impact on the living standard for expatriates and their families in these location,’ she added.

In North America, Canada and the United States continue to offer a high standard of living. Vancouver at 5 tops the list for this region, followed by Toronto at 15 and Ottawa at 16. San Francisco at 27, Boston at 34, and Honolulu at 36 are the highest ranking US cities. Mexico’s highest ranking city is Monterrey at 109 while Mexico City is ranked at 126.

In South America, Montevideo at 78, Buenos Aires at 91, and Santiago at 93 are the highest ranked cities. In Brazil, Mercer has identified Manaus as an emerging city and it is ranked at 127. The report says it is already a thriving industrial centre and has a free economic zone. Its good supply of consumer goods and relatively advanced infrastructure partially counteract the impact of Manaus’ lack of international schooling options for expats and remote location.

Asia is the region with the largest range in quality of living standards, with the highest ranking city, Singapore, at 25 and the lowest ranking, Dushanbe in Tajikistan at 214.

Topping the ranking across East Asian cities is Tokyo at 44. Other key cities in this part of the region include Hong Kong at 70, Seoul at 72, Taipei at 83, Shanghai at 101, and Beijing at 118.

Behind Singapore, the second highest ranking city in Southeast Asia is Kuala Lumpur at 84 and other major cities here include Bangkok at 117, Manila at 136 and Jakarta at 140. In South Asia, Colombo at 132 ranks highest and is followed by emerging Indian cities Hyderabad at 138 and Pune at 145. Both cities rank higher for quality of living than the country’s more traditional business centres, Mumbai at 152 and New Delhi at 154.

The report points out that considerable population increases in Mumbai and New Delhi in recent decades have increased existing problems, including access to clean water, air pollution, and traffic congestion.

In the Pacific, New Zealand and Australian cities are some of the highest ranked cities globally, with Auckland in third place, Sydney at 10, Wellington at 12 and Melbourne at 16.

Dubai ranks highest for quality of living across the Middle East and Africa region at 74 and is followed by Abu Dhabi at 77 and Port Louis in Mauritius at 82. In South Africa, Durban at 85 is an emerging city and ranks higher than the country’s traditional business centres, Cape Town at 91 and Johannesburg at 94.

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