Singapore best city in Asia for expatriates: Mercer poll

Singapore was named Asia's best city for expatriates but failed to break into the global top 10, in a new ranking released on Tuesday.

European cities dominated the top spots despite the region's migrant crisis, terror threats and concerns about economic outlook. Singapore came in at 26th in the world, ahead of other major cities in Asia, including Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Vienna in Austria was No. 1 for the seventh consecutive year in the annual ranking by consultancy firm Mercer. Zurich, Switzerland, was in second place, with Munich, Germany, in fourth. Auckland in New Zealand was at No. 3, making it the highest-ranking city in the Asian-Pacific region. Vancouver, Canada, at No. 5, was North America's best city.

The survey evaluated around 440 cities in 10 broad categories, including safety, health, schools, public services, recreation, consumer goods, housing and environment. It then ranked 230 cities.

Apart from quality of life, the survey looked at how safe a city is by weighing factors such as crime figures, the performance of local law enforcement and the home country's relationship with other countries.

Luxembourg topped the personal safety list, jointly followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich.

  • TOP 10 CITIES FOR EXPATS

  • 1. Vienna, Austria

    2. Zurich, Switzerland

    3. Auckland, New Zealand

    4. Munich, Germany

    5. Vancouver, Canada

    6. Dusseldorf, Germany

    7. Frankfurt, Germany

    8. Geneva, Switzerland

    9. Copenhagen, Denmark

    10. Sydney, Australia

Singapore ranked highest for personal safety in Asia, clinching the eighth spot globally. Mr Tomoo Nishiguchi, a Japanese expat working in Singapore, told The Straits Times: "Although the high cost of living is a big challenge, we can use English and many other local languages here... Overall, it's much more convenient to live here as compared to Tokyo."

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wu noted that Singapore "did quite well" to be among the top 50 cities.

"Because of the space constraint, we won't want to be the No. 1 city. Or else it'd make an already expensive city more expensive," he added.

Although Singapore may not be the cheapest place to do business, the ranking shows it is attractive enough to get businesses to set up shop here, as well as for expatriates to want to live and work here, Mr Song added.

Volatile regional geopolitics characterised by safety concerns, political turmoil and an elevated risk of terrorism have sent many Middle Eastern and African cities to the bottom of the list.

Baghdad in Iraq is at 230, while Bangui in the Central African Republic is at 229. Baghdad and the Syrian capital Damascus are the world's least safe cities, the ranking shows.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore best city in Asia for expatriates: Mercer poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe