Annual survey reveals world’s best cities for expats

Vienna, Austria is the city which offers expats the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2014 Quality of Living rankings; a survey in which European cities dominate.

Mercer Report on ExpatMercer conducts its Quality of Living survey annually, evaluating local living conditions in 223 cities worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 separate categories, including schools and education, medical and health considerations and Housing.

Zurich, Switzerland, and New Zealand’s largest city Auckland followed behind Vienna in second and third place respectively. Munich, Germany is in fourth place, followed by the ever popular Canadian city Vancouver, which is also the highest-ranking city in North America.

Ranking 25th globally, Singapore is the highest-ranking Asian city, whereas Dubai (73) ranks first across Middle East and Africa. The city of Pointe-à-Pitre (69th), Guadeloupe, takes the top spot for Central and South America.

Europe dominates the top ten positions. In addition to the aforementioned Vienna, Zurich and Munich, German cities Dusseldorf (6th) and Frankfurt (7th) were also ranked inside the top ten,

“European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions,” explains  Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer. “Healthcare, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard. Political stability and relatively low crime levels enable expatriates to feel safe and secure in most locations. The region has seen few changes in living standards over the last year.”

expats vs locals in DubaiThe lowest ranked city in Europe was Tbilisi, Georgia, in 191st place, slightly behind Minsk, Belarus (189th) and Yerevan, Armenia (180th).

London was placed in 38th position overall.

Canadian cities dominate the North American based cities in the survey. Vancouver was the only North American city in the survey to rank in the top ten, and it was followed in the rankings by fellow Canuck cities Ottawa (14th), Toronto(15th), and Montreal (23rd). San Francisco (27th) was the highest ranked US city.

The region’s lowest-ranking city is Mexico City (122nd), preceded by four US cities: Detroit (70th), St. Louis (67th), Houston (66th), and Miami (65th).

Mr Parakatil commented: “On the whole, North American cities offer a high quality of living and are attractive working destinations for companies and their expatriates. A wide range of consumer goods are available, and infrastructures, including recreational provisions, are excellent.”

In Australasia, the two New Zealand cities surveyed performed very well, with Auckland’s 3rd place backed up by Wellington in 12th, while Sydney in 10th place was found to be Australia’s most liveable city for expats.

Elsewhere, Asian cities offer the biggest disparity between high and low standards of living for its expats.

Expatriate Global“Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard amongst its cities than any other region,” explains Parakatil. “For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of living is continually improving. But for others, such as some in China, issues like pervasive poor air pollution are eroding their quality of living.”

Singapore in 25th place has the highest quality of living in the continent, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo (43rd), Kobe (47th), Yokohama (49th), and Osaka (57th). Dushanbe (209), Tajikistan, is the lowest-ranking city in the region.

However, while the usual suspects may have dominated the upper echelons of this year’s survey, Parakatil notes that the world is changing, and more destinations than ever before are becoming ‘expat friendly’.

“In a world economy that is becoming more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial and business centres are working to improve their quality of living so they can attract more foreign companies,” he says. “This year’s survey recognises so-called ‘second tier’ or ‘emerging’ cites and points to a few examples from around the world These cities have been investing massively in their infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments by providing incentives such as tax, housing, or entry facilities. Emerging cities will become major players that traditional financial centres and capital cities will have to compete with.”

2014 Quality of Living Rankings – top 5

1) Vienna, Austria

2) Zurich, Switzerland

3) Auckland, New Zealand

4) Munich, Germany

5) Vancouver, Canada

2014 Quality of Living Rankings – bottom 5

219) Sana’a, Yemen

220) N’Djamena, Chad

221) Port-au-Prince, Haiti

222) Bangui, Central African Republic

223) Baghdad, Iraq

For emigration advice, please visit our Emigrate2 website