Europe offers the best quality of life for expats, according to a new survey of living standards in more than 460 cities worldwide.
Vienna, Austria, tops the chart which compares lifestyle and financial factors like crime, the cost of living, culture, housing and education.
Overall, the rankings are in favour of Europe, with Zurich, Switzerland, taking second place, followed by the German cities of Munich (4th), Dusseldorf (6th) and Frankfurt (7th).
The other cities making up the top seven are Auckland, New Zealand (3rd) and Vancouver, Canada, (5th). Vancouver is also the highest ranking city in the Americas, while Auckland has the top spot in the east.
Singapore (25th) is the top Asian city, while Dubai (73rd) grabs the highest ranking for the Middle East and Africa – followed a few places behind by the other major United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi (78th).
At 69th, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, is the highest ranking Central and South American city.
Cities with the worst rankings
The cities with the lowest quality of life rankings are:
- Baghdad, Iraq (223rd)
- Bangui, Central African Republic (222nd)
- N’Djamena, Chad (221st)
- Sana’a, Yemen (220th)
- Brazzaville, Congo (218th)
The rankings are drafted by expat benefits firm Mercer to help human resources departments work out incentives and compensation payments to a fair and consistent formula.
These payments generally include a mobility and quality of living allowance based on the listings.
Generally, expats locating to cities nearer the bottom of the rankings receive higher allowances.
“We look at factors that add or take away from the quality of life of people living in hundreds of cities around the world,” said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer.
Why Europe ranks higher
“Political uncertainty, high crime rates and bad air pollution can affect the lives of expats, and to make sure that compensation packages accurately compare the quality of life in cities on different continents, employers need a consistent basis for calculating any allowances they pay to reflect this.
“Cities outside traditional banking and finance centres can also use the index to see how they can improve their quality of life to attract more foreign businesses.”
Surprisingly, popular expat destinations like London, Paris and New York do not feature in the top five cities for their regions.
Parakatil explained that European cities tend to rank higher because they have a better infrastructure and lower crime rates than cities in other regions.
“High standards are set in healthcare and leisure in Europe. Countries are politically stable and enjoy less crime that let expatriates feel safer than in most other locations,” he said.