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Singapore is once again the most liveable location in the world, despite worsening scores

  • Singapore has been named again as the most liveable location for expatriate workers from East Asia.
  • This is despite seeing the liveability score worsen amid Covid-19 Many major Asian locations have tumbled in the rankings including Taipei, Macau and Seoul as Covid-19 restrictions impact living conditions.

Singapore has remained the most liveable location in the world for expatriates from East Asia in 2022, despite seeing the overall liveability score worsen. This was one of the conclusions of the latest Location Ratings survey published by global mobility experts, ECA International.

“Singapore remains the most liveable location in the world for overseas workers from other locations in East Asia, fighting off competition from Wellington, New Zealand and various Japanese cities” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “This was in spite of the liveability score worsening in Singapore due to a combination of very strict lockdown measures and increasing internet censorship. This meant that the gap between Singapore and the second and third placed cities has shrunk since last year, but Singapore retains its spot at the top of the rankings as a result of outstanding scores in other areas such as international schooling, infrastructure and housing.”

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.

Asia Highlights

Elsewhere, many other Asian locations have fallen significantly in the rankings in the past 12 months, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic being the cause in many cases.

“Macau, which remains one of the most sealed off locations, dropped 30 places in our rankings in the past 12 months,” said Quane. “Similarly, many locations in India, which placed widespread restrictions on movement to combat the spread of Covid-19, fell in our rankings, as did many locations in China which have witnessed a continued disconnection from the world as they have suspended direct air connections with international cities.”

Similarly, Hong Kong is now just the 77th most liveable city in the world, down 19 places from last year. 

Quane said “Hong Kong has seen a significant drop in our latest liveability rankings partly as a result of the increasing censorship of local news and media, impacting on the ‘freedom of news and media’ aspect of the overall liveability score. At the same time, many locations which were ranked below Hong Kong last year have relaxed many Covid-19 induced social distancing measures resulting in them moving up our global rankings and overtaking the city.”

Taipei was the biggest faller in the rankings, dropping 31 places from last year to tie with Hong Kong as the 77th most liveable location. 

“Taipei is normally a fixture in the top 50 most liveable global locations but saw a notable drop this year,” said Quane. “Part of this fall was due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19 restrictions reducing recreational activities for residents. At the same time the city is witnessing a growing housing crisis in the city with a shortage of accommodation for Taipei’s growing expatriate population. The silver lining for expatriate workers though is that this is not expected to be a long-term trend, and we will hopefully see an improved score as soon as pandemic-related restrictions eventually begin to ease” explained Quane.

Thai cities Bangkok and Chiang Mai also experienced a drop in their ranking, and both sit well outside of the top 100 cities, in 115th and 118th position respectively. 

Quane explained “There have been ongoing concerns in Thailand around Covid-19, with growing restrictions imposed in late 2021 in an effort to kerb the high number of cases across the country. This has impacted the Thai cities in in our rankings and, in the case of Bangkok, the score was worsened even further by the increasingly harmful level of pollution across areas of the city.”

Quane said “While many locations in Asia fell in the rankings due to Covid-19 and the measures put in place to kerb infection rates, Yangon saw a considerable fall for a very different reason as the military junta continues its rule over Myanmar following a coup last year. As a result, there has been a significant change in many areas of our scoring, including personal safety, Socio-political tensions, freedom of the media, and the availability of goods and services. Unlike in many other cases in the latest rankings, this unfortunately may not be a short-term trend that corrects itself in the near future.”

The downward trend for Asian locations also included mainland Chinese cities which all fell in the liveability rankings. The highest placed Chinese city, Shanghai, now sits in 117th place while Zhengzhou saw the biggest fall and dropped 14 places to 194th most liveable city.

Quane explained “Zhengzhou’s fall was partly due to the severe impact of flooding which occurred in 2021. However, like elsewhere in mainland China the falls were also due to the ongoing restrictions which have been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. These include some of the strictest immigration policies worldwide. At the same time, further restrictions on communications, such as limitations for overseas workers to be able to access popular overseas websites, have also been reflected in our assessment and have also contributed to the falls in our rankings.”

Elsewhere, Yangon also fell significantly owing to the impact of the military coup in 2021 and the resulting campaign of civil disobedience and opposition to army’s actions.  

Quane said “While many locations in Asia fell in the rankings due to Covid-19 and the measures put in place to kerb infection rates, Yangon saw a considerable fall for a very different reason as the military junta continues its rule over Myanmar following a coup last year. As a result, there has been a significant change in many areas of our scoring, including personal safety, Socio-political tensions, freedom of the media, and the availability of goods and services. Unlike in many other cases in the latest rankings, this unfortunately may not be a short-term trend that corrects itself in the near future.”

Top 20 most liveable locations for East Asian overseas workers

Location
2021-2022 ranking
2020-2021 ranking
Singapore
1
1
Wellington, New Zealand
2
2
Osaka, Japan
3
3
Tokyo, Japan
3
3
Copenhagen, Denmark
3
6
Nagoya, Japan
6
3
Bern, Switzerland
6
14
Yokohama, Japan
8
6
Eindhoven, Netherlands
8
17
Stavanger, Norway
10
10
Brisbane, Australia
10
12
Gothenburg, Sweden
10
12
Adelaide, Australia
10
14
Utrecht, Netherlands
10
14
Sydney, Australia
10
21
Amsterdam, Netherlands
10
21
The Hague, Netherlands
10
21
Geneva, Switzerland
10
27
Dublin, Irish Republic
10
37
Aarhus, Denmark
20
10
 
 

-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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