Thursday, March 12, 2009

S'pore is tops again among Asian expats

It retains No. 1 spot in poll for 10th straight year, beating 253 cities

SINGAPORE has beaten the rest of the world for the 10th year running to be named the city that offers Asian expatriates the best quality of life.

According to a survey released yesterday, the city state's quality of air, infrastructure and health-care facilities kept it at No. 1. Its low crime rate also helped it retain pole position in the annual ranking by human resource consultancy ECA International.

As far as Asian expats were concerned, Singapore beat 253 other cities - including big names such as San Francisco, New York, London and Paris.

Only five Asian cities made it to the top 50 among Asian expats. Apart from Singapore, these were Japan's Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe, along with Hong Kong, which came in 11th due to its poor air quality and inferior health facilities.

But expats from other regions appeared to be less impressed by Singapore. The city slipped in favour for all non-Asian expats, as other cities became more desirable places to live.

Expats from the Middle East ranked Singapore 25th in terms of quality of life, down from 23rd last year. Australian and New Zealand expats put Singapore in 44th spot, down from last year's 42nd.
Americans named Singapore their 54th favourite city, a drop from 50th place last year, while Europeans also ranked it 54th, down a notch from the previous 53rd.

ECA regional director Lee Quane stressed that the lower rankings were not caused by a deterioration in Singapore's quality of life.

'Basically, it is not due to any detriment on Singapore's part,' he told The Straits Times.

While Singapore's scores in all categories have remained the same as last year's, other locations have improved their scorecards, he said.

Categories looked at included climate, health services, social networks and leisure facilities.
'You need to look at where the person is coming from,' Mr Quane added. 'From a European or American perspective, there may be other cities that are more attractive. But from an Asian

person's perspective, Singapore comes in at No. 1.'

Indeed, for Filipina Ditas Lopez, Singapore ranks as one of the best cities in the world.

'The transportation system is very efficient, doing business is easy and, most importantly, the quality of air is very good,' said Ms Lopez, 38, a media professional who has lived here for three years.

Bringing up the rear for Asian expats were war-torn cities such as Baghdad in Iraq and Kabul in Afghanistan. These were the least desirable locations for expatriates due to a lack of suitable facilities and high personal security risks.

Despite Singapore's relatively low global ranking among European expats, the city was their top choice in Asia, followed by Kobe, Yokohama, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Some of the biggest improvements in quality of life were seen in Chinese cities, where facilities for visitors have improved.

Beijing, for instance, shot up 13 places to 99th spot after it upgraded its infrastructure, recreational facilities and security for the Olympic Games last year.

Conversely, Indian locations have fallen on average in this year's rankings, largely due to poorer air quality. New Delhi - ranked 187th - saw the largest deterioration in quality of living within Asia.

ECA's survey is designed to help companies establish expat allowances, which compensate staff for adapting to life in their assigned locations.

Source: Straits Times, 12 Mar 2009

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