San Francisco is the top-ranked city in the United States for quality of living while Atlanta ranks highest for city infrastructure
Singapore, regarded by many as the smartest city in the world, has been ranked top for infrastructure in Mercer’s Quality of Living survey but the overall top spot goes to Vienna for the eighth consecutive year. The consultancy’s survey aims to provide multinational organisations, government agencies and municipalities on the best cities for sending expatriates on assignment.
“Economic instability, social unrest, and growing political upheaval all add to the complex challenge multinational companies face when analysing quality of living for their expatriate workforce,” said Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Career business.
He added: “For multinationals and governments, it is vital to have quality of living information that is accurate, detailed, and reliable. It not only enables these employers to compensate employees appropriately, but it also provides a planning benchmark and insights into the often-sensitive operational environment that surrounds their workforce.”
After Vienna, the top-ten list is mostly filled by European cities with Zurich ranked second, Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and Basel, a newcomer to the list, in 10th place. The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland (3) and Vancouver (5). The highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America are Singapore (25) and Montevideo (79), respectively.
British cities performed poorly. London is the highest-ranking city for quality of life (40) and infrastructure. Edinburgh was ranked 45th, Birmingham and Glasgow joint 53rd, followed by Aberdeen (58) and Belfast (66).
City infrastructure was ranked separately this year, assessing factors such as each city’s supply of electricity, drinking water, telephone and mail services, and public transportation as well as traffic congestion and the range of international flights available from local airports. Singapore was followed by Frankfurt and Munich both in 2nd place. Baghdad (230) and Port au Prince (231) rank last for city infrastructure.
“The success of foreign assignments is influenced by issues such as ease of travel and communication, sanitation standards, personal safety, and access to public services,” said Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer and responsible for its quality of living research.
“Multinational companies need accurate and timely information to help calculate fair and consistent expatriate compensation – a real challenge in locations with a compromised quality of living.”
Mr Parakatil added: “A city’s infrastructure, or rather the lack thereof, can considerably affect the quality of living that expatriates and their families experience on a daily basis. Access to a variety of transportation options, being connected locally and internationally, and access to electricity and drinkable water are among the essential needs of expatriates arriving in a new location on assignment.
"A well-developed infrastructure can also be a key competitive advantage for cities and municipalities trying to attract multinational companies, talent, and foreign investments.
“Cities that rank high in the city infrastructure list provide a combination of top-notch local and international airport facilities, varied and extended coverage through their local transportation networks, and innovative solutions such as smart technology and alternative energy. Most cities now align variety, reliability, technology, and sustainability when designing infrastructure for the future.”
Other findings from the survey
North America: Canadian cities take the top positions. Vancouver (5) is again the region’s highest ranking city for quality of living.
Toronto and Ottawa follow in 16th and 18th place respectively, whereas San Francisco (29) is the highest ranking US city, followed by Boston (35), Honolulu (36), New York (44), and Seattle (45).
For city infrastructure, Vancouver (in 9th place) also ranks highest in the region. It is followed by Atlanta and Montreal, tied in 14th place.
Asia-Pacific: Singapore (25) remains the highest ranking city overall. There remains great disparity in quality of living though in the region. Dushanbe (215) in Tajikistan ranks lowest. In Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur (86) follows Singapore; other key cities include Bangkok (131), Manila (135), and Jakarta (143).
Five Japanese cities top the ranking for East Asia: Tokyo (47), Kobe (50), Yokohama (51), Osaka (60), and Nagoya (63). Other notable cities in Asia include Hong Kong (71), Seoul (76), Taipei (85), Shanghai (102), and Beijing (119). There is also considerable regional variation in the city infrastructure ranking. The highest-ranked city is Singapore (1), whereas Dhaka (214) is near the bottom of the list.
New Zealand and Australia continue to rank highly in quality of living: Auckland (3), Sydney (10), Wellington (15), and Melbourne (16) all remain in the top 20. However, when ranked for infrastructure, only Sydney (8) makes the top ten, with Perth (32), Melbourne (34), and Brisbane (37) also ranking well for infrastructure in Oceania.
Middle East and Africa: Dubai (74) continues to rank highest for quality of living and ranks highest for infrastructure in the region in 51st place. In overall quality of living, it is closely by Abu Dhabi (79), which climbed three spots. Sana’a (229) in Yemen, Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic, and Baghdad (231) in Iraq are the region’s three lowest-ranked cities for quality of living.
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