Top Expat Destinations Are Unfamiliar Places

The first names that slip of an expats tongue for the best quality of life aren’t necessarily the best places to live and work, according to new research.

The Austrian capital Vienna ranks top for lifestyle – followed by Auckland, Munich and Vancouver.

The surprise destinations came from an analysis of a range of lifestyle and financial factors affecting expats in 233 cities around the world by benefits advice firm Mercer.

The research revealed that traditional financial centres like London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore are under threat as favourite expat destinations from many smaller, less well-known places.

The firm found many multinationals are relocating to second-tier international cities rather than the more expensive big names.

Political instability and social unrest

Places like Cheonan, South Korea, and Pune, India, are rising up the rankings.

Cheonan is becoming a hub for technology companies, while Pune is attracting education and IT businesses and car makers.

The problem place for expats and multinationals is Africa due to political instability and social unrest which disrupts national economies and often spills across borders.

Another problem faced by Africa is a lack of infrastructure to support economic development.

Emerging cities cited as work and lifestyle choices by expats are Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates and Durban, South Africa.

Dubai is rapidly growing as a financial centre, while Durban has a growing manufacturing base and seaport.

The firm also outlines some issues that are starting to impact on expat postings.

Virtual working

Virtual working from a remote office, often in another country, means expats do not have to relocate.

Many countries, especially with emerging economies, are trying to better educate their own work forces to take over from armies of expats who run their countries from day-to-day.

“Jobs are beginning to move to people rather than the other way around,” said the Mercer research.

“Virtual working is bringing less disruption to expat families and allows them more flexibility and choice about where they live and how they work.

“Improving infrastructure and education to bring up the skill levels of local workers is also playing a part. The cost of living and quality of lifestyle is starting to become more important than moving away from the family for extra cash for many expats.

“Companies need to start bearing this in mind when they plan opening a new site.”

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