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Top 20 most liveable locations for Asian expatriates

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Singapore retained the global crown for the 17th successive year in the top 20 most liveable locations in the Asia expatriates rankings. Asian locations such as Japan and Hong Kong remained in the top 50.

Carried out in Q3 to Q4 last year, the annual research examines the liveability scale of 480 cities worldwide, including 100 locations in Asia. It aims to determine whether a particular location will be considered for a location (“hardship”) allowance.

Factors, including climate, availability of health services, housing and utilities, natural phenomena, isolation, access to a social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, personal safety, political tensions and air quality are taken into account.

Singapore has remained best positioned since 2005, while most Asian locations were stagnant in the 2019 rankings because of their innate infrastructure issues, high pollution levels and sociopolitical tensions.

“A number of factors make Singapore the ideal location such as access to great facilities, low crime rates, good quality healthcare and education, as well as a large expat population already living in Singapore,” said Lee Quane, regional director at ECA International.

“Although many cities in Asia offer similar benefits to overseas workers, Singapore remains the top location and doesn’t look like dropping in the rankings any time soon.”

Hong Kong dropped from 29th and was the 41st most liveable city for expats.

“Hong Kong slipped down our rankings in the past 12 months due to the disruption and considerable damage caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in September,” Quane said.

“Although there was no loss of life, Mangkhut was the most devastating storm experienced by Hong Kong since records began and the cost of the resulting damage to buildings and infrastructure was estimated to be around US$1 billion. Therefore, Hong Kong’s liveability score has changed to reflect the difficulties caused by Typhoon Mangkhut.”

Hong Kong’s fall down the liveability rankings is the largest of any of the locations surveyed in Asia and second in scale only to Managua, in Nicaragua, which experienced significant sociopolitical change in 2018.

While air and water pollution continue to hold Hong Kong back as the top hub for expats, there is a growing concern on the city’s health hazards.

Many Chinese cities continued to progress in the rankings. Shanghai snatched top spot in China.

“Despite rapid improvements to infrastructure, the one downside for many Chinese cities has been excessive levels of air pollution which has negatively impacted the quality of life. However, in recent years, the Chinese authorities have introduced measures to combat air pollution and these efforts are translating into improvements in their rankings.”

Japanese cities seized four seats in the top 10 despite Typhoon Jebi in Osaka.

“Japanese cities have always performed strongly in our location ratings rankings and this year is no exception, with Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Yokohama all in the top 10 locations for Asian expatriates. Despite Typhoon Jebi hitting Osaka and southern Japan in early September and causing widespread disruption and casualty to the region, Osaka remains joint fifth in the rankings, a slight drop from third last year.”

Global highlights

Outside of Asia, nine cities in Australia and New Zealand were placed in the top 20 because of their high level of infrastructure and facilities and geographical locations.

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, was the most liveable European location for Asian expats, and ranked 10th overall because of the city’s low emissions, low criminal activities, relatively advanced heath system, and good access to facilities and education.

Regardless of Europe’s refugee crisis and being next to the refugees’ haven Germany, four cities from the Netherlands were placed in the top 20.

Top 20 most liveable locations for Asian expatriates

Location 2019 ranking 2018 ranking
Singapore 1 1
Brisbane, Australia 2 2
Sydney, Australia 2 3
Adelaide, Australia 4 3
Osaka, Japan 5 3
Nagoya, Japan 5 6
Tokyo, Japan 5 6
Wellington, New Zealand 8 9
Canberra, Australia 8 10
Perth, Australia 10 6
Copenhagen, Denmark 10 10
Yokohama, Japan 10 10
Utrecht, Netherlands 13 13
Melbourne, Australia 14 14
Bern, Switzerland 14 14
Auckland, New Zealand 14 17
Darwin, Australia 17 14
Amsterdam, Netherlands 17 17
Eindhoven, Netherlands 17 17
The Hague, Netherlands 17 17
Stavanger, Norway 17 17
Geneva, Switzerland 17 22

There is no correlation between this study and the institution’s previous study on cost of living.

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