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Bern and Copenhagen top global liveability index for Europeans

Bern and Copenhagen are the most liveable locations for Europeans according to the latest Location Ratings for expatriate living conditions published by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and technology for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

Good air quality, solid infrastructure, decent medical facilities, low crime and health risks have contributed to Bern and Copenhagen topping the global ranking for quality of living for European assignees.

- Neil Ashman, Senior Analyst, Location Ratings at 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 450 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.

Bern and Copenhagen are followed by The Hague in the ranking for European assignees. However, the impact of some of the factors assessed, such as distance from home and differences in culture, language and climate, will vary according to where someone comes from.

“Where an employee is going from and to can affect the level of adaptation required on the part of the assignee for some of the factors we measure,” explained Ashman. “For this reason, our analysis takes into account both the home and destination countries. So, while Copenhagen and Bern rank at the top for Europeans they fall to 7th and 11th, respectively for someone coming from Asia. For Asian expatriates, Singapore is the most liveable location while, someone expatriating from North America will find it easiest to adapt to living and working in Toronto followed by Dublin.”

The locations to see the biggest movement up and down the global ranking were both in Europe: Tirana (175th) in Albania has seen the biggest improvement this survey largely due to a significant upgrade in its education score. Kiev saw the largest deterioration in its score following the unrest there over the past year. It fell from 134th place in the ranking to 161st.

Chisinau, Moldova, ranked 192nd, is Europe’s least liveable city.

Global overview

In North America, Toronto (30th) is the most liveable location followed by Vancouver (32). While in Latin America, Chile's Santiago (108) scores more favourably for European assignees, followed by the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, (112).

Canberra is the best scoring locations in Australia (41st globally) followed by Adelaide (49th). Wellington, in 39th place is the most liveable New Zealand location surveyed.

Singapore (96th globally), is the Asian city that offers the best quality of living for European assignees followed by the Japanese city of Osaka (97th). Beijing (143) and New Delhi (210) have the worst score for air quality globally.

Tel Aviv (108th globally) is the location in the Middle East which requires the least adjustment for European assignees overall, followed by Dubai (115).

For European assignees going to Africa, Port Louis, Mauritius, (116) affords the best quality of living followed by Cape Town (118).

Significant deterioration in scores were also seen in Freetown (Sierra Leone), Monrovia (Liberia), Tripoli (Libya), Sana’a (Yemen) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

Globally, the hardest locations to adapt to living and working in are the Afghan locations of Lashkar Gah and Kandahar.

New allowance calculation system for expatriates in remote and exceptional locations

ECA has also launched a Remote Allowance Calculator to help companies rationalise the calculation of special allowances for staff working in remote and exceptionally challenging locations. It was developed in collaboration with ECA clients to provide a system for calculating location allowances for sites such as mines, plantations, military bases, oil and gas facilities, disaster zones and environments like the jungle, the desert or the Arctic.

“The term ‘remote’ in the context of mobility means a lot more than simple distance from home. It is often used for places where facilities are limited – for example where accommodation is in tents or dormitories, where flights out are infrequent, leisure facilities non-existent and medical care basic. That might include sites in a desert, a jungle or offshore, or expeditions,” said Ashman.

“Standard location allowance calculation methodologies for expatriates aren’t designed to reflect these unique locations and circumstances, so we built a calculator that can. It helps companies sending staff into such places to establish consistent and fair location allowances by assessing the particular facilities on their sites or missions,” he added.

Remote Location Allowances can now be bought from ECA either through a subscription to the calculator or one at a time by contacting ECA.


Top 20 most liveable locations globally for Europeans

Global ranking 2015 Location Country
1 Bern Switzerland
1 Copenhagen Denmark
3 The Hague Netherlands
4 Luxembourg City Luxembourg
4 Geneva Switzerland
6 Basel Switzerland
6 Stavanger Norway
8 Antwerp Belgium
8 Dublin Irish Republic
8 Eindhoven Netherlands
8 Gothenburg Sweden
12 Stuttgart Germany
12 Amsterdam Netherlands
12 Munich Germany
12 Bonn Germany
16 Frankfurt Germany
16 Rotterdam Netherlands
16 Hamburg Germany
19 Zurich Switzerland
20 Dusseldorf Germany
20 Berlin Germany
20 Strasbourg France

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 450 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. For the purposes of this press release an Asia base has been used.

• Remote allowance calculations:

In order to derive a supplementary allowance for exceptional locations ECA’s Remote Allowance Calculator allows for additional considerations to be taken into account on top of the standard calculation for the following factors: climate, accessibility, accommodation, recreation facilities, medical provision and family status.

To read more about factors influencing ECA's Location Ratings, download the free Location Ratings

About ECA International

Recognised since 1971 as a world authority in its field, ECA is a leader in the provision of knowledge, information and technology to inform, guide and support managers handling compensation and benefits for international workers moving around the world. ECA offers organisations of all sizes an unrivalled portfolio of data, calculation aids, salary management software, reports, guides, surveys and consultancy to help them structure and manage their international rewards programmes for long-term, short-term and permanent moves.

Follow ECA on twitter: @ECAintl

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