Malaysia might not be among the top 10 most expensive countries in Asia Pacific for expatriates, but looks like that hasn't significantly helped the nation become more favourable for Asian professionals on the move.

Instead, Kuala Lumpur dropped two positions to emerge as the 120th most liveable place to live for expatriates, according to a survey by ECA International.

ECA's Location Ratings system objectively evaluated a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 460 locations worldwide.

The ratings are designed to help 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.

It was precisely in this last factor that affected Kuala Lumpur's rankings this year.

In fact, Lee Quane, regional director, Asia, ECA International noted air pollution was one of the factors which hindered quite a few Asian locations in the ranking, owing to the fact that many locations in the region are adversely affected by poor air quality.

"The impact of haze in the region also contributed to Kuala Lumpur’s fall in our regional rankings, from 26th last year to 27th this year,” Lee stated.

Within the region, Singapore remained the most liveable location in the world for Asian expatriates. The survey attributed the nation's position to its solid infrastructure, decent medical facilities, low crime and low health risks.

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“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 Lee.

Singapore was followed by Adelaide, Sydney and Osaka (joint 2nd) in the global rankings for Asian assignees.

Singapore's regional rival, Hong Kong, also moved up to 28th place in the global rankings.

“Once again, Hong Kong ranks highly in Asia for key areas including infrastructure, education and healthcare facilities, personal security and availability of goods and services,” said Quane.

“However, Hong Kong continues to be penalised for air quality in ECA’s scoring system - remaining in Asia’s top five worst locations for air quality. In the past four years this has been the most significant difference between Hong Kong and Singapore’s Location Ratings.”

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