Thursday, March 25, 2010

S’pore top city to live in for Asian expats

Ranking makes city appealing to global firms wishing to bring in staff: ECA

SINGAPORE has emerged as the top place for Asian expatriates to live in for an 11th year running, according to global human resource consultancy ECA International.

High quality infrastructure, alongside low health risks, air pollution and crime rates, and a cosmopolitan population make Singapore the best city for Asian expats to relocate to, ECA says. Singapore came in first ahead of Sydney and Kobe, both of which retained their rankings from 2009 too.

Its annual location ratings report is intended to help global companies decide on ‘hardship allowances’ for expatriates, by analysing the quality of life for over 400 locations. The assessments take into account the home and destination countries of employees, which explains why while Singapore is top of the chart for Asian expats, it ranks 55th on the list for Western European ones. On that list, European cities dominate the top spots, but Singapore still ranks above Hong Kong, Tokyo and the major Chinese cities.

Lee Quane, Asia regional director of ECA, told BT that hardship allowances could come up to 20 per cent of an assignee’s base salary in less favourable locations.

Singapore’s emerging top on this survey thus bodes well for its cost attractiveness to global companies who wish to bring in staff from abroad. But these allowances are just one component of an expatriate’s overall compensation package.

In an ECA report comparing cities’ cost of living last December, Singapore climbed three spots to be the ninth most expensive Asian city for expatriates from all over.

Even then, Mr Quane said: ‘If you look at the wider picture, of the major cities in Asia – Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul – the cost to a company of sending an employee from elsewhere in Asia to Singapore would probably still be lowest.’

For instance, neither Hong Kong nor Singapore’s quality of living would warrant a ‘hardship allowance’ recommendation from ECA, but the cost of living in Hong Kong is still higher than in Singapore. This makes the overall compensation package for an Asian assignee sent here more cost competitive, he said.

Source: Business Times, 25 Mar 2010

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