Singapore holds title as most livable city for Asian ex-pats

LONDON — An annual survey published by an employment think tank again listed Singapore as the most livable city for East Asian expatriates. Hong Kong, meanwhile dropped to 41st most livable city for the same demographic – down from 29th last year.

            Cities in Australia and New Zealand were the most common non-Asian destinations on the list. Japan was the only Asian country, other than Singapore, mentioned. No cities in the United States or Canada were in the top 20.

            The top five most livable cities for East Asian expats were: Singapore; Brisbane, Australia; Sydney, Australia; Adelaide, Australia; and, Osaka, Japan. Rounding out the top 10: Nagoya, Japan; Tokyo, Japan; Wellington, New Zealand; Canberra, Australia; and, Perth, Australia.

            ECA International (also known as Employment Conditions Abroad Limited) published the annual survey. The organization studies living conditions and prospects of assimilation in nearly 500 locations worldwide.

            Researchers specifically look at access to social networks and leisure venues, air quality, availability of health services, climate, housing, infrastructure, isolation, personal safety and political tensions.

            Singapore was noted for its access to leisure venues, education, healthcare quality, large expat population and low crime rate. The city-state has been at the top of ECA International’s rankings for 14 years.

            Hong Kong suffered the greatest drop of all cities featured in the survey.

            “Hong Kong’s fall down the liveability rankings was the greatest of all locations surveyed in Asia and second in scale only to Managua, in Nicaragua, which experienced significant socio-political change in 2018,” the ECA International report stated. “The fall also marks the continuation of a long-term trend though, which has seen it steadily fall from its highest ranking of 11th place in 2013.

            “Meanwhile, many Chinese cities continue to rise in the liveability rankings, reflecting a long-term trend as many locations in the country continue to develop,” the ECA International report continued.

            Cities such as Beijing, Nanjing and Xiamen have been creeping up in the ECA International rankings, according to the firm’s Asia regional director, Lee Quane.

            Quane added the decline of Hong Kong’s status was mostly due to Typhoon Mangkhut, which struck in September 2018.

            “Hong Kong has slipped down our rankings in the past twelve 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 record began and the cost of the resulting damage to buildings and infrastructure is estimated to be around USD 1 billion.

            Other cities to show promise, in terms of livability, were Bangkok (Thailand) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Bangkok ranked 89th on the list, while Kuala Lumpur was at 98.

            Colombo, Sri Lanka, experienced a steep drop – 12 spots – to 194th overall. A constitutional crisis, ethnic violence and overall unrest in 2018 caused the largest Sri Lankan city to drop several slots in livability.

            The remainder of the top 20 looked like this:

-       Copenhagen, Denmark

-       Yokohama, Japan

-       Utrecht, Netherlands

-       Melbourne, Australia

-       Bern, Switzerland

-       Auckland, New Zealand

-       Darwin, Australia

-       Amsterdam, Netherlands

-       Eindhoven, Netherlands

-       The Hague, Netherlands

-       Stavanger, Norway

-       Geneva, Switzerland.