Singapore remains top destination for Asian expats

Other locations in region also seeing progress in terms of liveability, says report

Singapore remains top destination for Asian expats

Singapore has retained its position as the most liveable city for East Asian overseas workers, according to the latest Location Ratings Report from ECA International.

Mark Harrison, General Manager for Asia at ECA, attributed Singapore's position to its excellent infrastructure and facilities, low crime rates, and little exposure to socio-political tensions.

Coming after Singapore is Tokyo, Japan, which was previously in the 9th position in 2013, when people in the city were still dealing with the impact of the Tōhoku earthquake and the 2011 tsunami.

"However, improvements in living conditions since then mean Tokyo is ranked only behind Singapore in terms of its liveability levels for expatriate staff," Harrison said in a statement.

Other locations in the region have also seen improvement and are starting to close the gap between them and Singapore.

According to ECA International, cities such as Jakarta (213th to 196th), Phnom Penh (200th to 184th), and Hanoi (160th to 144th) are starting to gain ground in the list following development in various areas.

"We have seen lots of small but significant improvement in areas such as transport infrastructure, health services, and recreational facilities in several locations throughout Southeast Asia leading to these locations becoming more attractive," Harrison said.

On the other hand, Yangon in Myanmar saw one of the biggest drops in ranking over the past years, falling from 208th to 229th between 2018 and 2023.

Its latest position puts it even lower than its 225th place in 2013, according to ECA International, which attributed the drop to the military seizing power again in 2021.

Chinese cities climb in rankings

Meanwhile, the following Mainland Chinese cities have climbed significantly in the rankings over the last 10 years, such as:

  • Shenzhen (137th, up from 152nd 10 years ago)
  • Xi'an (163rd, up from 176th)
  • Wuhan (145th, up from160th)

"The zero-COVID policy and associated restrictions caused many Chinese cites to fall in our rankings for a couple of years," Harrison said. "But when we look at our current assessment compared to five or 10 years ago, we can see that Chinese cities have risen notably in the rankings as living conditions have improved."

Still, ECA said the high levels of pollution, censorship, and suboptimal healthcare facilities can make living in Chinese cities challenging.

Liveability in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has also seen massive improvements over the last 12 months after falling to the 77th place in 2023, down from its 13th spot in 2013.

Its drop was attributed to the political demonstrations that took place in 2014 and then protests that later erupted in 2019.

The financial hub was also among the last places globally to lift restrictions, making it one of the relatively challenging locations to live in during the final stages of the pandemic, according to Harrison.

"With those restrictions belatedly lifted, both Hong Kong and mainland Chinese locations have seen improvements over the last 12 months," he said.

Top 10 places attracting job candidates

Overall, the top 10 most liveable locations for East Asian overseas workers include:

  • Singapore (1)
  • Tokyo, Japan (2)
  • Wellington, New Zealand (2)
  • Adelaide, Australia (2)
  • Brisbane, Australia (5)
  • Osaka, Japan (5)
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands (7)
  • Yokohama, Japan (7)
  • Sydney, Australia (7)
  • Bern, Switzerland (10)

ECA International's Location Ratings evaluated over 500 locations over the globe, based on a variety of factors such as availability of health services, housing and utilities, isolation, access to a social network and recreational and leisure facilities, infrastructure, climate, personal safety, socio-political tensions, and air quality.

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