Mercer’s latest ‘Quality of Living survey’ survey again found Vienna to be the most amiable location for expatriates sent on international assignments, while Iraq is lowest ranked. Zurich and Auckland come in second and third respectively. The DACH region performed particularly well in this year’s survey, with seven entries in the top ten, while African and Middle Eastern cities continue to rank poorly.
Mercer’s latest quality of living survey explores the world’s largest and regionally important cities for their respective quality of living conditions. The 19th edition of the ‘Quality of Living survey’ report is based on a survey of 450 cities across the globe, for which living conditions are assessed based on 39 factors within key 10 categories. The benchmark provides an analysis of living conditions for companies that are considering to send staff on international assignments.
Remarking on the resultsof the firm’s survey, Ilya Bonic, a Senior Partner and President of Mercer’s Career business, says, “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. 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.”
Vienna, Austria, tops the survey this year, unseated from the position for the eight-year running. Zurich, Switzerland, takes the number two spot, followed Auckland, New Zealand. Munich, Germany, and Vancouver, Canada, round off the top five.
DACH cities perform relatively well in the top ten, with seven entries in the top ten, German has three, including Dusseldorf and Frankfurt taking sixth and seventh spots respectively, while Switzerland too has three, with additional entries of Geneva on eight and Basel at number ten equal with Sydney.
The bottom of the list includes largely African and Middle Eastern entries. Baghdad, Iraq, is the lowest ranked at number 231, followed by Bangui in the Central African Republic. Sana’a in Yemen, too scores particularly poorly on 229.
By region Europe remains the most liveable, with the most highly rated cities in the region as a whole. North America scores relatively highly, although the top cities are concentrated predominantly within Canada, Toronto on number 16, Ottawa on number 18 and Montreal on number 23. The only US city in the region’s top five is San Francisco on number 29.
The Middle East and Africa have their top five entries in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties range. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates comes in at number 74, followed by Abu Dhabi at number 79. Port Louis, Mauritius, is third in the region and number 84 overall, while South African entries Durban and Cape Town take the number 87 and 94 spots respectively.
Asian entries vary considerably in ranking, with city state Singapore coming in at number 25, followed by four Japanese entries, Tokyo at number 47, Kobe at number 50, Yokohama at 51 and Osaka at number 60. Aside from Auckland and Sydney, The Pacific region boast three other high ranked cities, New Zealand capital Wellington takes the number 15 spot, while Australian cities Melbourne and Perth come in at 16 and 22 respectively.
Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer and responsible for its quality of living research adds, “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. 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.”
Aside from ranking across key metrics, the research also explored the quality of key infrastructure assets across the cities surveyed, including, among others electricity supply, drinking water, telephone and mail services, and public transportation. Aside from Singapore, which ranked number one, Hong Kong, at number six, Sydney, which ranked eight, and Vancouver on number nine, the results found that European cities dominated the top ten.
The bottom of the list includes entries, again largely from countries in the Middle East and Africa. Although the outright last place in the infrastructure category went to Port au Prince in Haiti. Parakatil adds, “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 transport 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.”