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Hong Kong moves into the global top 30 on global liveability index

Hong Kong is the Asia Pacific region’s 15th most liveable location for Asian expatriates, rising to 28th place in the global rankings. It has reduced the gap between itself and Singapore, which is ranked first globally as well as in Asia. This was one of the findings of the latest Location Ratings survey for expatriate living conditions published by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

Hong Kong remains favourably placed in Asia, ranking behind Singapore and locations in Japan. However, its rise in the global rankings bely the fact that Hong Kong’s ranking, relative to other leading locations in Asia, is undermined by long-standing problems affecting the territory, most notably air pollution. Our findings confirm that Hong Kong still has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the region, which prevent it from going higher in our rankings.

- Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, ECA International

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 460 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; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions and air quality.

Hong Kong’s regional rival, Singapore, has secured the global top spot for the 17th year running. Solid infrastructure, decent medical facilities, low crime and low health risks have contributed to Singapore maintaining its position at the top of the global ranking for quality of living for Asian assignees.

“Our ranking accounts for the impact of relatively high levels of air pollution in the Lion City last year in comparison to previous years. Although this also impacted our assessment of Singapore, the fact that it scores so well in all of the other factors that we analyse means that Singapore retained its top spot,” said Quane. 

Asia Pacific highlights

Macau has climbed 5 places in the global rankings this year to 81st position, up from 86th place last year, owing to marginal improvements in the availability of goods and services there.

Scores have generally remained stable across most Chinese locations. Shanghai, ranked 110th globally for the second year in a row, remains the most liveable of the mainland Chinese locations assessed. Suzhou and Beijing (joint 123rd) are China’s second most liveable locations. Xi’an saw the most significant overall improvement in the Asia region over the past year, with its re-emergence as an important educational, cultural, and industrial centre of the central-northwest region.

Chinese locations continue to rise in our rankings as the quality of living in mainland China improves. However, notwithstanding the notable performance of Xi’an, the rate of rise in our rankings has slowed down. This reflects the fact that there are challenges associated with more deep-rooted issues such as air pollution, food safety, medical facilities and socio-political tensions. Without improvements in these criteria, we anticipate that Chinese locations will not advance much further in our rankings.

- Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia, ECA International

Australian locations dominate the global top 10 with Adelaide and Sydney occupying joint second place. Brisbane (5th), Perth (7th), and Canberra (9th) join them at the top of the rankings. In the Asia Pacific region, the most notable climb in the rankings was Australia’s Darwin. The city rose from 45th to 24th place in the global rankings as its scoring in education improved.

In India, Bengaluru, ranked 174th globally, scores most favourably followed by Chennai and Mumbai (joint 183rd). New Delhi (208th) is the least liveable. Along with Beijing, New Delhi has the worst score for air quality not just in Asia but globally.

Malaysian locations have also fallen slightly in the global rankings. Kuala Lumpur is in 120th position, down from 118th last year.

The Pakistani cities of Islamabad (262nd) and Karachi (268th) remain as the region’s least liveable locations with the worst scores for personal security and social-political tensions. They are the hardest locations surveyed in Asia for expatriates to adapt to living and working in.

Global overview

For Asian expatriates going to live and work in Europe, Copenhagen and Bern offer the best quality of living, ranking 9th and 13th in the global rankings respectively. The German city of Stuttgart has seen Europe’s biggest drop in the global rankings, down to 46th place from 27th position last year, largely due to a significant worsening in its air pollution score.

In North America, Vancouver (24th) remains as the most liveable location, followed by San Francisco and Seattle (joint 39th). While in Latin America, the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo (121st), scores more favourably for Asian assignees, followed by Chile's Santiago (131st).

Dubai (109th globally) is the location in the Middle East which requires the least adjustment for Asian assignees overall.

For Asian assignees going to Africa, Port Louis, Mauritius, (119th) affords the best quality of living followed by Cape Town (133rd).

Globally, the hardest locations to adapt to living and working in are the Afghan locations of Kandahar (275th) and Lashkar Gah (276th).

Regional and global ranking of Asian locations
Asia Pacific Rank 2016 Location Global Rank 2016 Global Rank 2015
1 Singapore 1 1
2 Osaka 2 4
2 Sydney 2 2
2 Adelaide 2 2
5 Brisbane 5 5
5 Wellington 5 5
7 Nagoya 7 7
7 Perth 7 10
9 Canberra 9 7
10 Tokyo 11 11
10 Yokohama 11 11
12 Melbourne 13 11
13 Auckland 15 15
14 Darwin 24 45
15 Hong Kong 28 33
16 Christchurch 59 65
17 Taipei 71 65
18 Busan 76 76
19 Macau 81 86
20 Seoul 93 93
21 Kaohsiung 102 101
22 Ulsan 103 103
23 Shanghai 110 110
24 Bangkok 111 112
25 Chiang Mai 112 112
26 George Town 117 118
27 Kuala Lumpur 120 118
28 Beijing 123 122
28 Suzhou 123 124
30 Nanjing 127 130
30 Johor Bahru 127 126
32 Bandar Seri Begawan 129 132
33 Xiamen 131 130
34 Guangzhou 133 133
35 Qingdao 138 139
36 Dalian 140 140
37 Shenzhen 145 143
38 Chengdu 149 150
38 Chongqing 149 150
40 Wuhan 154 155
41 Tianjin 155 152
42 Ho Chi Minh City 158 159
43 Hanoi 159 159
44 Xi'an 160 173
45 Vientiane 172 171
46 Bangalore 174 171
47 Colombo 179 182
48 Metro-Manila 181 178
49 Mumbai 183 182
49 Chennai 183 182
51 Pune 190 194
51 Phnom Penh 190 197
53 Hyderabad 201 201
54 Ulaanbaatar 203 201
55 Kolkata 205 203
56 Jakarta 206 208
57 New Delhi 208 204
58 Surabaya 217 217
58 Yangon 217 220
60 Port Moresby 226 229
61 Kathmandu 234 230
62 Dhaka 247 247
63 Lae 252 253
64 Pyongyang 254 254
65 Islamabad 262 261
66 Karachi 268 269

 

Location Country Global Rank 2016 Global Rank 2015

Top 10 most liveable locations globally for Asian expatriates

Singapore Singapore 1 1
Adelaide Australia 2 2
Sydney Australia 2 2
Osaka Japan 2 4
Brisbane Australia 5 5
Wellington New Zealand 5 5
Perth Australia 7 10
Nagoya Japan 7 7
Canberra Australia 9 7
Copenhagen Denmark 9 7

About ECA's Location Ratings

•    Standard allowance calculations:

Updated annually, ECA International's Location Ratings System measures the quality of expatriate living conditions in over 460 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's Location Ratings are delivered through ECA's Location Allowance Calculator which offers a transparent and detailed system for calculating location allowances for expatriates relocating to a new country. The system recognises that where an employee is going from and to can affect the level of adaptation required on the part of the assignee for some of these factors. Users can select region-to-city allowances or city-to-city allowances, so that depending on a company's policy the system reflects the level of detail required.
To read more about factors influencing ECA's Location Ratings, download the free Location Ratings Global Perspectives report here

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.

Follow ECA on twitter: @ECAintl

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