Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Singapore is Asia's most liveable city

It also boasts best infrastructure in the world: Survey

SINGAPORE has risen six places in a global ranking of cities with the highest quality of living, overtaking cities such as Paris in France and Honolulu and San Francisco in the United States.

At 26th place, the Republic also surpassed all its Asian neighbours to be the region's best performer in the latest Worldwide Quality of Living Survey by human resource consultancy Mercer.

As the icing on the cake, Singapore also topped Mercer's list of cities with the best infrastructure in the world. It proved superior in various areas, including electricity and water supply, telephone and mail services, public transport, traffic congestion and range of international flights from local airports.

Although it is often taken for granted, infrastructure 'has a significant effect on the quality of living experienced by expatriates', said Ms Cathy Loose, Mercer's Asia Pacific global mobility leader.

The development of Marina Bay and Sentosa Cove as new waterfront living areas appear to have boosted Singapore's position in the rankings.

'Singapore already has excellent housing, but now its new ocean-front and seafront living options have allowed the ranking to move even higher,' said Mr Derrick Kon, Mercer's Singapore global mobility leader.

He added that the 'high-quality houses and apartments' that are available for rent and the 'excellent selection of appliances and furniture' for residents definitely helped elevate Singapore's quality of life.

The other factor that contributed to Singapore's higher ranking is the presence of 'many good schools' in the city, said Mr Kon.

'Singapore has always had a lot of good schools and international schools, but now there are also more private schools offering university degrees,' he said.

'If expatriates come here with their children, this is one area they would be looking at, and in Singapore they would have a lot of options, with international programmes and university programmes.'

Singapore's strong position in quality of life rankings such as these could stand the nation in good stead in the current financial crisis, said Mr Mark Ellwood, managing director of Robert Walters, another human resource consultancy.

With companies looking to cut costs, many are reducing the number of international assignments and localising their expat compensation packages where possible, which means not giving out the 'hardship' allowances or benefits that are offered to expats who have to live in cities with a lower quality of life.

'There is perhaps less of an argument these days that Singapore is a hardship posting, so you don't have to give many expat benefits in terms of additional bells and whistles,' said Mr Ellwood.
Singapore is the only Asian city on the top 100 list that managed to increase its ranking this year, with the rest largely maintaining their previous positions.

China's capital, Beijing, moved up three places from 116 to 113 due to public transport improvements stemming from the Olympic Games last year, but Bangkok in Thailand and Mumbai in India both dropped in the rankings amid worsened stability and security.

Globally, the Austrian city of Vienna overtook Switzerland's Zurich to boast the best quality of life this year. European cities continued to dominate the top positions in the ranking, amid a sprinkling of Canadian and American cities.

Mercer publishes this list annually to help multinational companies determine an appropriate amount of compensation for expatriates sent to work in difficult locations.

Source: Straits Times, 29 April 2009

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