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Singapore is once again the most liveable locations for Asian expatriates

  • Singapore tops the liveability rankings for Asian expatriates for another year 
  • Singapore has been named the most liveable location for expatriates since 2005
  • Dropping by over 50 places, Hong Kong is now the 93rd most liveable location for East Asian expats
  • All Australian cities fall in the rankings, while Thai and Vietnamese cities see improvements 

Singapore has once again claimed the top spot of ECA International’s liveability rankings for East Asian expatriates, having been first every year since 2005. This was one of the conclusions from the latest Location Ratings survey published by the global mobility expert.

“Singapore has been consistently featured at the top of our liveability rankings for Asian expatriates for well over a decade, and this year is no different,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “Singapore boasts an excellent infrastructure and amenities across the board, maintains a low crime rate and has a large expatriate community as well. These aspects attribute to Singapore’s prime spot in the rankings, and the country will most likely continue to hold the top position in the considerable future.”

Updated annually, ECA's Location Ratings system objectively evaluates a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 490 locations worldwide. The system helps companies establish appropriate allowances to compensate employees for the adjustment required when going on international assignments. Factors assessed include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; natural phenomena; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions; and air quality. The impact of some of the factors assessed will vary according to the home location of the assignee.

Asia Pacific highlights 

Hong Kong has tumbled 52 places and is now the 93rd most liveable location for overseas workers coming from elsewhere in East Asia. Major Asian capitals such as Seoul and Taipei have overtaken the city as a result. 

“The scale of Hong Kong’s fall in our rankings is unprecedented and is a consequence of ongoing socio-political tensions in the city,” said Quane. “Not only are the heightened political tensions worrying for expatriates living in the region, the protests that have regularly taken place since mid-2019 have had a negative effect on areas of everyday life, which are often taken for granted. This includes disruptions to Hong Kong’s transportation infrastructure and an increase in crime rates since the protests began.”

Elsewhere in the region, Australian cities saw drops in the rankings after liveability scores worsened in every location. Despite the fall, all seven Australian locations included in the list still feature in the top 30 destinations for East Asian workers.

Quane explained, “Nearly all of the Australian locations in the rankings dropped this year due to a rise in the threat level posed by potential terrorism. After numerous foiled attempts in recent years, the official threat level has been raised to ‘probable’ – this is therefore reflected in the overall liveability scores for Australian locations. However, it worth pointing out that Australian cities still occupy the upper ranks of our ratings, with Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide all staying put in the top ten.”

In contrast, Thai and Vietnamese cities all saw significant improvements to their score and rose in the liveability rankings as a result. 

“Liveability has improved in Thai and Vietnamese locations due to the economic growth that both countries are currently seeing. As Vietnam develops and invests in better infrastructure, living standards have improved for locals and expatriates in the country. As for the Thai locations in our list, the success of the recent peaceful democratic elections implies that cities in the country have seen an improvement in the political situation as well – something that inevitably improves liveability levels for expatriates” explained Quane.

Global highlights

Copenhagen is once again the most liveable location for Asian expatriates outside of the Asia Pacific region. The Danish capital comes in ninth in the rankings alongside Yokohama, Japan, and joins a host of other Northern European locations in the top 20 rankings.

Quane said, “Cities in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Switzerland have consistently scored well for expatriate liveability. Copenhagen, in particular, is once again the top European destination for East Asian expatriates. Excellent transport links, coupled with a high standard of healthcare and political stability, mean that overseas workers can adapt to these locations with ease.”

Cities in the United States saw mixed fortune this year, with New York and San Francisco rising in the rankings after improvements to their liveability scores. However, other cities such as Boston have experienced drops. 

“New York and San Francisco have both jumped in our rankings due to a drop in violent crime in recent years, making it safer for expatriates to travel freely around the cities. On the other hand, our research into expatriate liveability in Boston indicated that there is greater competition for housing available for overseas workers as a result of the country’s booming economy. This has impacted the city’s overall liveability score as a result.”

Top 20 most liveable locations for East Asian expatriates
Location
Country
2018-19 global ranking
2019-20 global ranking
Singapore
Singapore
1
1
Brisbane
Australia
2
2
Sydney
Australia
2
3
Nagoya
Japan
5
3
Osaka
Japan
5
3
Tokyo
Japan
5
3
Adelaide
Australia
4
7
Wellington
New Zealand
8
7
Copenhagen
Denmark
10
9
Yokohama
Japan
10
9
Utrecht
Netherlands
13
11
Canberra
Australia
8
12
Eindhoven
Netherlands
17
12
Auckland
New Zealand
14
12
Bern
Switzerland
14
12
Perth
Australia
10
16
Amsterdam
Netherlands
17
16
The Hague
Netherlands
17
16
Stavanger
Norway
17
16
Geneva
Switzerland
17
16

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

About ECA International 

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully-integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions – every time.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

About ECA’s Location Ratings

Updated annually, ECA International's Location Ratings system measures the quality of expatriate living conditions in over 490 locations around the world to arrive at a fair and consistent assessment of the level of difficulty the expatriate will experience in adapting to a new location. Factors evaluated include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions and air quality.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

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