• Personal safety key factor in determining expat quality of living
• Vienna ranks highest in overall quality of living
• Luxembourg ranks highest for personal safety; Baghdad lowest
• London ranks 39th in overall quality of living in UK; 72nd in personal safety
Despite recent security issues, social unrest, and concern about the region’s economic outlook, European cities continue to offer some of the worlds’ highest quality-of-living, according to Mercer’s18th annual Quality of Living survey. Safety, in particular, is a key factor for multinationals to consider when sending expatriate workers abroad, both because it raises concerns about the expat’s personal safety and because it has a significant impact on the cost of global compensation programmes.
“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.”
Vienna continues its reign in the top spot for overall quality of living, followed by Zurich (2), Auckland (3), and Munich (4).Vancouver (5) is North America’s highest ranking city, and Singapore is the highest ranking Asian city, holding 26th place. Mercer’s survey also identifies the personal safety ranking for the full list of cities; it is based on internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country’s relationship with other countries. Luxembourg tops the personal safety list and is followed by Bern, Helsinki, and Zurich – all tied in 2nd place. Baghdad (230) and Damascus (229) are the world’s least safe cities according to the ranking. The safest UK cities are Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow – all ranked in 44th place.
Mercer’s authoritative survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is conducted annually to enable multinational companies and other employers to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Employee incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium.* Mercer’s Quality of Living surveys provide valuable data as well as hardship premium recommendations for over 440 cities throughout the world; this year’s ranking includes 230 of these cities.
“Ensuring that the needs of expatriates and their families are met wherever work takes them is an essential part of talent retention and recruitment strategies for most multinationals,” said Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer and responsible for the quality-of-living research. “Managing safety and health issues is of utmost importance, especially for employees who relocate with a family. Our surveys enable companies to take adequate precautions for them.
Mr Parakatil added: “Other elements that add to safety costs in the host location are obtaining suitable and well secured accommodations; having an in-house comprehensive expatriate security programme and providing access to reputable professional evacuation services and medical support firms, and finally, providing security training and guarded office premises.”
Despite economic uncertainties, Western European cities continue to enjoy some of the highest quality of living worldwide; they fill seven places in the top-10 list. Vienna continues to lead the ranking and has done so in the last seven published rankings. It is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), and Copenhagen (9). In 69th place, Prague is the highest ranking city in Central and Eastern Europe, followed by Ljubljana (76) and Budapest (77). The lowest ranking cities in Europe are Kiev (176), Tirana (179), and Minsk (190).
European cities also dominate the top of the personal safety ranking with Luxembourg in the lead, followed by Bern, Helsinki, and Zurich, which are tied for the number-two spot. Vienna ranks 5th; Geneva and Stockholm are placed jointly in 6th; and Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nurnberg all share 11th place. A number of key or capital cities do rank considerably lower as many suffered either terrorist attacks or social unrest in the last few years; examples include Paris (71), London (72), Madrid (84), and Athens (124).The recent political and economic turmoil in Greece, which resulted in violent demonstrations in Athens and other cities in the country, has undermined its safety ranking. Kiev (189), St. Petersburg (197), and Moscow (206) rank lowest for personal safety in the region.
23 February 2016
United Kingdom, London