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Hong Kong sees major rise in liveability rankings

  • Hong Kong is now the 58th most liveable location, a rise of 35 places from last year
  • Singapore is once again the most liveable location in the world 
  • Many cities see big drops in their rankings owing to the widespread impact of Covid-19

Hong Kong has seen a significant rebound in its position in ECA’s liveability rankings, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the city was offset by the fall in socio-political tensions and crime rates. This was one of the conclusions of the latest Location Ratings survey published by global mobility experts, ECA International.

“Hong Kong has rebounded in our latest liveability rankings after the protests seen throughout 2019 abated last year” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “Factors which were affected by the tensions in 2019, such as disruptions to the transportation network, recovered and crime rates fell. Moreover, Hong Kong avoided typhoons of a scale similar to those which caused disruption to the city in 2019. However, despite the recovery overall, some areas of Hong Kong’s score did worsen, such as the freedom of news and media which has been impacted by recently introduced national security legislation, and Hong Kong’s ranking remains significantly lower than in 2018.”

Updated annually in November, 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 assignment. 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.

APAC Highlights

Singapore has retained its place as the most liveable location for Asian expats, continuing a trend which stretches back to 2005. 

Quane said “Singapore is top of the liveability rankings for the 15th year in a row as its superior infrastructure, low pollution and large expat communities continue to appeal to overseas workers. Additionally, while Singapore imposed a circuit breaker to manage the outbreak of Covid-19 within its borders in 2020, the scale of its lockdown was less severe than other locations in the region.”

Meanwhile, Australian cities all dropped significantly in the rankings. Brisbane and Adelaide fell out of the top ten most liveable places, while Sydney fell from 3rd place last year to 21st.

“A few different factors resulted in Australian cities falling in the rankings, the primary reason being the strict lockdown measures which were introduced in some areas of the country. This affected the  recreation scores, as  access to social networks and leisure facilities  was  restricted in an effort to stem infection rates across the country. Flights were also limited, with only Australian or New Zealand permanent residents allowed to enter the country, which impacted on external isolation scores. Aside from the virus, the wildfires which took place across Australia towards the start of 2020 meant that the natural phenomenon score for some Australian cities was adversely affected too” said Quane.

The Taiwanese capital Taipei has climbed back into the top 50 most liveable locations after maintaining the same score as last year while many other locations fell. 

Quane explained “Although Taipei’s score has not directly improved from last year, the city has moved up to 46th place in the rankings as result of many other locations, mostly European and Australian cities, moving down the rankings and pushing Taipei upwards. Taiwan has seen relatively low levels of Covid-19 cases and has therefore managed to avoid any large-scale restrictions on lifestyles that we have seen elsewhere in 2020.”

Global Highlights

Nearly every European city included in the rankings saw a drop this year, as Covid-19 restrictions impacted liveability scores. Major cities such as Rome and Lisbon fell over 20 places from last year’s rankings, while Paris dropped out of the top 100 most liveable locations for the first time.

Quane said “Although the effects of Covid-19 were felt throughout the world, with virtually every location in our rankings enacting measures of some sort in order to minimise the spread of the virus, these measures were especially stringent in European and Latin American countries. Lockdowns have been seen across Europe, with travel being severely impacted, meaning that freedom of movement scores have been affected as well as recreation scores. We’ve also seen cities such as Paris implement curfews, which has affected liveability scores even further. Although we of course expect these measures to only be for the short-term, it has nonetheless caused liveability scores to change for most European locations and they have therefore dropped dramatically in the rankings.”

US cities moved up the latest rankings, with eight US locations in the top 50 most liveable locations and 27 in the top 100.

“While European locations have moved down the rankings as their liveability scores worsened, US cities were pushed up the rankings despite their scores changing little from last year. There were relatively few restrictions in place in the US towards the end of last year as many cities resisted the lockdowns and curfews which have been seen in other parts of the world. Although this has changed in recent weeks, the lack of strict measures in many states has meant that US scores have stayed mostly the same as last year” said Quane.

The Lebanese capital Beirut saw the biggest change in ranking after falling over 40 places, putting the city outside of the top 200 locations.

Quane explained “Beirut experienced a tragic explosion in August last year resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to property and buildings. This impacted liveability scores in various ways - with housing and the availability of goods and services being affected, as well as the socio-political score worsening due to pandemic-related restrictions. The city also saw widespread protests in the city aimed at the government’s perceived weak response to the crisis, as well as the deteriorating economy.”

Top 20 most liveable locations for East Asian overseas workers
Location
2020/21 ranking
2019/20 ranking
Singapore
1
1
Wellington, New Zealand
2
7
Nagoya, Japan
3
3
Osaka, Japan
3
3
Tokyo, Japan
3
3
Copenhagen, Denmark
6
9
Yokohama, Japan
6
9
Auckland, New Zealand
6
12
Austin, United States of America
9
21
Stavanger, Norway
10
16
Aarhus, Denmark
10
21
Brisbane, Australia
12
2
Gothenburg, Sweden
12
24
Adelaide, Australia
14
7
Utrecht, Netherlands
14
11
Bern, Switzerland
14
12
Eindhoven, Netherlands
17
12
Basel, Switzerland
17
24
Vancouver, Canada
17
27
San Francisco, United States of America
17
36

-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.

For further information, please contact:

Jack Firth 
Tel: +44 0 20 7351 5000
Email: Jack.Firth@eca-international.com

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