No ASEAN Cities Among Top 20 of Mercer Index for the Quality of Living

Is there a way for ASEAN to improve the way expatriates perceive the quality of living in a city? Every year, Mercer, a cabinet looking at talent, health, retirement, and investment consulting, releases a survey of the best cities to live around the world. The latest survey 2016 -the 18th edition- has recently been released.

Mercer’s authoritative survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is conducted annually to enable multinational companies and other employers to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Mercer’s Quality of Living surveys provide valuable data as well as hardship premium recommendations for over 440 cities throughout the world; this year’s ranking includes 230 of these cities.

“Ensuring that the needs of expatriates and their families are met wherever work takes them is an essential part of talent retention and recruitment strategies for most multinationals,” said Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer and responsible for the quality-of-living research. “Managing safety and health issues is of utmost importance, especially for employees who relocate with a family. Our surveys enable companies to take adequate precautions for them.

Mr Parakatil added: “Other elements that add to safety costs in the host location are obtaining suitable and well secured accommodations; having an in-house comprehensive expatriate security programme and providing access to reputable professional evacuation services and medical support firms, and finally, providing security training and guarded office premises.”  Other criteria include as well it is based on internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country’s relationship with other countries.

While seven of the top 10 cities are located in Western Europe -with Vienna and Zurich being placed number 1 and number 2-, ASEAN cities are performing in the mid-field. Law enforcement and relations with other countries -which can be a source of problems- probably weighted on the ranking of most cities in the region.

Singapore is the highest ranking Asian city, holding 26th place far ahead of other Southeast Asian metropolis such as Kuala Lumpur- the second-best performance in ASEAN with rank 86- or Bangkok at rank 129.

For personal safety, the rankings for Asian cities again vary greatly. Singapore (8) ranks highest overall and is followed by five Japanese cities—Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama—that are tied for 32nd place. However, Bangkok performed badly last year due to considerable political unrest and terrorist attacks in several tourist areas over the last few years. The Thai capital ranks consequently just behind Jakarta (172). However, its ranking is likely to improve by next year as stability is back in Bangkok…