World’s best expat destination revealed

World’s best expat destination revealed

Vienna is the best city in the world to live in as an expat, according to the latest survey of expats on their happiness with their current posting.

The Mercer 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, released today, is intended to help  multinational companies and other employers to “compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments”, according to Mercer, the New York-based, globally-focussed consultancy.

The survey paints a particularly favourable picture of Western Europe, with seven of the top 10 cities in this region; and five of the 10 were German-speaking cities.

Germany itself had three of the top 10: Munich (in fourth place), Dusseldorf (sixth place) and Frankfurt (No. 7). Zurich came in second, while Auckland, New Zealand, was third.

Vancouver, Geneva, Copenhagen and Sydney made up the remaining top 10.

Australia’s second most populous city Melbourne – which regularly  comes top in general quality of living surveys, and convincingly pips arch-rival Sydney – didn’t do so well when viewed through an expat’s lens, coming in equal 15th place in the Mercer ranking, alongside Toronto, Canada.

London, meanwhile – which never does particularly well, owing possibly to its high cost of living – came in at a feeble 39th, two places below Paris.

Frequent expat favourite Singapore came in 26th place, two spots above 28th-placed San Francisco, which is the best US city to live in as an expat.

Boston, Honolulu, Chicago and New York were the next best US cities for expats, in that order.


Singapore unsurprisingly topped the Asian list. Five Japanese cities followed, with Tokyo at the top, in 44th place. Hong Kong (in 70th place) was next, followed by Taiwan capital Taipei (84) and Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur (86).

Shanghai, and Beijing came in at 101st and 118th, respectively.

While Singapore’s overall score was 28th, it scored particularly well on the personal safety front, taking the 8th spot, and beating New Zealand cities Auckland and Wellington (9th equal) and Australian cities Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney, which shared 25th place.

Middle East and Africa

As for the Middle East and Africa, the United Arab Emirates was the clear winner overall, with expat magnets Dubai and Abu Dhabi taking the first and second spots respectively (75th and 81st places on the full list).

Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, were next, in the Middle East/Africa category, followed by Tel Aviv, Israel; Muscat, in Oman; and Doha in Qatar.

African and Middle Eastern countries overwhelmingly dominated the bottom of the list, with Baghdad in Iraq named the world’s worst city anywhere to live in as an expat.

Personal safety

Results for personal safety were quite different from overall scores. Luxembourg topped the personal safety list, followed by Bern, Helsinki, and Zurich, which tied in 2nd place. Baghdad (230) and Damascus (229) were rated by the expats surveyed as the world’s most dangerous cities.

London scored particularly badly on the personal safety front, at 72. The safest UK cities were all in Scotland – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, which tied in 44th place.

“Heightened domestic and global security threats, population displacement resulting from violence, and social unrest in key business centres around the world are all elements adding to the complex challenge facing multinational companies when analysing the safety and health of their expatriate workforces,” said Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Talent business.

“Multinational companies need accurate data and objective methods to determine the cost implications of deteriorating living standards and personal safety issues when compensating expatriates.”

Top 20 Countries

1             Vienna (Austria)

2             Zurich (Switzerland)

3             Auckland (New Zealand)

4             Munich (Germany)

5             Vancouver (Canada)

6             Dusseldorf (Germany)

7             Frankfurt (Germany)

8             Geneva (Switzerland)

9             Copenhagen (Denmark)

10           Sydney (Australia)

11           Amsterdam (Netherlands)

12           Wellington (New Zealand)

13           Berlin (Germany)

14           Bern (Switzerland)

15           Toronto (Canada)

15           Melbourne (Australia)

17           Ottawa (Canada)

18           Hamburg (Germany)

19           Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

19           Stockholm (Sweden)

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