The outstanding infrastructure and low crime rate have long been two of the most convincing reasons cited by expatriates for liking Singapore.
Yet, there are strains from the increasing population and increased tourist numbers being attracted by the integrated resorts, said Mr Lee Quane, Asia regional director of expatriate location advisers ECA International, which conducted the annual study.
He told The Straits Times that these affairs and problems like the recent flash floods do not pressure Singapore’s position at the top of the league table, one it has held for the past 13 years.
‘They are not devastatingly negative nor are they harmful enough to impair Singapore’s ranking,’ he said.
One expat-turned-citizen, who works at a financial institution and declined to be named, told The Straits Times that things still look pretty good: ‘It is certainly still the most pleasing city to live in, not just in Asia, but in the Asia-Pacific.
‘Hygiene is outstanding, everything functions and it’s very secure. It was a South-east Asian city when I first came here years ago. Now, it’s a global city.’
These rankings have a specific impact when firms send staff overseas, noted Hong Kong-based Mr Quane.
‘When a location has good quality air, brilliant infrastructure and health-care facilities, low crime and health risks – all the aspects Singapore offers – companies are likely to provide just a low payment or none at all.
‘While Hong Kong is a very livable city in many respects, the bad air quality could impact on the decision of an employee to move there. In this respect, Singapore has a clear lead over Hong Kong.’
Hong Kong is in 11th place, up from 14th last year. Its rise in the rankings is more about Tokyo and Yokohama’s fall, Mr Quane noted.
Both Japanese cities were in the top 10 last year but have fallen to joint 17th due to last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
After Singapore, Australian cities Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide are cited as the most livable locations for Asian expatriates.
But while Singapore ranks at the top for Asians – it is one of two Asian cities apart from Kobe, Japan in the top 10 global locations – it ranks 66th for Western European expats.
This is because the force of some factors used in the assessment, such as distance from home and cultural, language and climate differences, varies according to where the expats come from.
‘We take into account the home and destination country when analyzing quality of living,’ said Mr Quane.
Scores have usually remained steady across most Chinese locations.
Australia controls the global top 10 with Perth, Canberra and Melbourne in the top 10 alongside Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide at the top of the ranking after Singapore.
New Zealand’s Christchurch dropped from 30th last year to 53rd as its housing and infrastructure were harshly exaggerated by last year’s earthquake.
Baghdad and Kabul hold the undesirable spot as the least livable locations. Third from bottom is Haiti’s Port au Prince.