Vienna offers best quality of life

Vienna, Austra   Photo:   Herr P

Vienna remains the city with the best quality of life in the world, according to Mercer’s latest annual report.

European cities dominate the top of the ranking, along with major cities in Australia and New Zealand. Zurich, Auckland, and Munich are in second, third, and fourth places respectively. In fifth place, Vancouver is the highest-ranking city in North America and the region’s only city in the top 10. Singapore (26) is the highest-ranking Asian city, whereas Dubai (74) ranks first across the Middle East and Africa. Montevideo in Uruguay (78) takes the top spot for South America.

Mercer conducts its Quality of Living survey annually to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Employee incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium.

“Taking a short- or long-term work assignment in a new country is both an exciting and challenging experience for employees and their families,” says Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer. “Cultures, societies, and comparatively different climates, as well as political instability, high crime rates, and poor infrastructure can be difficult to navigate and settle down in for employees and their families. Employers need to assess whether their staff and families will encounter any drop in quality of living when relocating and ensure they are fairly compensated for it.”

Mr. Parakatil adds: “As with last year’s survey, we continue to recognise emerging cities that are increasingly becoming competitors to traditional business and finance centres. These so called ‘second-tier emerging cites’ are investing, particularly in infrastructure to improve their quality-of-living standards and ultimately attract more foreign companies.”

Despite concerns about the economy, the cities of Western Europe continue to offer a stable environment for employees and employers. Vienna (1) is joined in the top flight by Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8) and Copenhagen (9). Indeed, Western European cities occupy seven places in the top 10. The lowest-ranking cities in Western Europe are Belfast (63) and Athens (85).

Cities in Central and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, have a wider range of quality-of-living standards. The highest-ranking cities are Prague (68), Budapest, and Ljubljana (both ranked 75th). Emerging city Wroclaw (100), Poland, has a thriving cultural and social environment and good availability of consumer goods. The region’s lower-ranking cities are Kiev (176), Tirana (180), and Minsk (189), with Kiev experiencing a considerable drop in the rankings, following the recent political instability and violence in Ukraine.

In the UK, London (40) is the highest-ranking city, followed by Birmingham (52), Glasgow (55), Aberdeen (57), and Belfast (63).

“UK cities overall enjoy high standards of quality of living and remain stable and attractive locations for businesses,” says Ellyn Karetnick, Principal at Mercer.

“Security has been tightened in many major European cities following the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, and  Mercer is closely monitoring any potential impact on the living standard for expatriates and their families in these locations.”

In North America, Canada and the United States continue to offer a high standard of living, with Canadian cities Toronto (15) and Ottawa (16) ahead of the highest-ranking US cities, San Francisco (27) and Boston (34).

In South America, Montevideo (78), Buenos Aires (91), and Santiago (93) are the highest-ranked cities. Asia is the region with the largest range in quality-of-living standards, with the highest-ranking city, Singapore, in 26th place and the lowest-ranking, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in 214th place. Topping the ranking across East Asian cities is Tokyo in 44th place. Other key cities in this part of the region include Hong Kong (70), Seoul (72), Taipei (83), Shanghai (101), and Beijing (118).

Behind Singapore, the second highest-ranking city in Southeast Asia is Kuala Lumpur (84); other major cities here include Bangkok (117), Manila (136), and Jakarta (140).

In the Pacific, New Zealand and Australian cities are some of the highest-ranked cities globally, with Sydney in 10th, Wellington in 12th, and Melbourne in 16th.