New Zealand and Australian cities continue to boast world-class quality of living standards and despite the extreme financial conditions experienced over the past 12 months they remain attractive destinations for overseas expatriates, Mercer's 2010 Quality of Living Survey has found.
Major New Zealand cities rank amongst the world's top 12 cities for overall quality of living, dominating the rankings in the Asia Pacific region for the third year running.
Georgina Harley, Head of Mercer's Information Product Solutions business, said governments and multi-national organisations rely on quality of living data to ensure they compensate employees fairly when transferring them to international locations.
"Both New Zealand and Australian cities have maintained their title at the top of the worldwide Quality of Living rankings, cementing their place as favourable destinations for multinationals expanding or establishing a business within the Asia Pacific region," Ms Harley said.
"Withstanding challenging financial conditions over the last 12 months, these cities have proven to an international workforce that they are a good long-term option for pursuing career development opportunities and for gaining experience in a mature and stable environment.
"The consistently high quality of living ranking of our cities ensure New Zealand and Australian continue to be attractive and viable destinations for both employers and employees This is good news for the growth of our respective economies and for closing the skills gap still troubling the Trans-Tasman job market," she said.
Mercer's analysis is based on an evaluation of 39 criteria for each city, grouped in 10 categories, including political and socio- economic factors, environmental factors, health and sanitisation, education, transport and other public services. The survey covers 221 cities and cities are compared to New York as the base city, with an index score of 100.
All New Zealand and Australian cities ranked higher than New York. Auckland again scored among the world's top five cities, holding steady at 4th position and scoring 107.4 points, on par with Vancouver. Wellington held its position in 12th place, and scored 105.9 points.
Across the Tasman, Australian cities also ranked favourably, Sydney, remained stable at 10th place, scoring 106.3 points; Melbourne ranked 18th (scoring 104.8 points); Perth held its position at 21st place (scoring 104.2); while Adelaide ranked 32nd (scoring 103 points). Brisbane scored 102.4 points ranking in 36th place - still above New York, the base city. Canberra was among various new additions to the survey this year, ranking 26th globally and obtaining a score of 103.6.
Ms Harley said New Zealand cities continue to tick all the boxes when it comes to assessing living conditions for overseas expatriates, and this will encourage employers to grow their operations and develop their high performers on our shores.
"Despite the economic challenges in New Zealand over the past 12 months, these natural peaks and troughs in economic stability are only one part of the bigger quality of living picture as New Zealand continues to rank well in all other categories," Ms Harley said.
"Over the last few years, New Zealand cities have scored highly on most of the 10 liveability factors, giving expatriates access to quality housing close to the city, political stability, infrastructure and transport facilities, a wide selection of restaurants and other amenities, as well as a good education and environment for their families," she said.
Global overview: Globally, Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world's best quality of living. Zurich and Geneva follow in second and third position, respectively, while Vancouver and Auckland remain joint fourth in the rankings.
European cities continue to dominate amongst the top 25 cities in the index.
Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer, commented: "As the world economy becomes more globalised, cities beyond the traditional financial centres are emerging as attractive places in which to expand or establish a business. Cities in many emerging markets, such as in the Middle East or Asia, have seen a significant influx of foreign companies and their expatriate employees in recent years."
"Quality of living standards remained relatively stable on a global level throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010, but in certain regions and countries the economic recession had a noticeable impact on the business climate," according to Mr Parakatil. Asia Pacific Auckland (4) retains its position as the highest-ranking city for quality of living in the region. Sydney follows at 10, Wellington at 12, Melbourne at 18 and Perth at 21. At 26, Canberra is new to the index. Singapore remains the highest-ranking Asian city at 28, followed by Japanese cities Tokyo (40), Kobe and Yokohama (both at 41), Osaka (51) and Nagoya (57). The region's lowest-ranking cities are Dhaka in Bangladesh (206) and two cities new to the list - Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan (209) and Dushanbe in Tajikistan (210).
Mr Parakatil commented: "Quality of living declined in a few countries in Asia between the start of 2009 and 2010. Increasing threats of violence and terrorism, coupled with natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and cyclones have had a negative impact on the quality of living in Asian cities. This may result in higher hardship allowances for expatriates sent to these countries."
With a score of 138.9, Wellington (5) is the highest-ranking eco-city in the region followed by Adelaide (7), Kobe (9), Perth (12) and Auckland (13). Dhaka in Bangladesh (220) ranks lowest with a score of 30.9.
Americas Canadian cities still dominate the top of the index for this region with Vancouver (4) retaining the top spot, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (16) and Montreal (21). Calgary ranks 28 on the overall quality of living ranking.
Honolulu (31) is the city in the US with the highest quality of living, followed by San Francisco (32) and Boston (37). Chicago and Washington share position 45 and New York - the base city - is in position 49. Newly added cities Philadelphia and Dallas are ranked 55 and 61, respectively.
In Central and South America, Point--Pitre, capital of Guadeloupe and new to the index this year, ranks the highest for quality of living at 62. San Juan in Puerto Rico follows at 72 and Buenos Aires at 78. Havana (192) and Port-au-Prince (213) are the lowest-ranking cities in the region.
Mr Parakatil commented: "Quality of living remained stable in North American cities. However, in South and Central America a general decline is witnessed mostly due to political instability, economic woes and energy shortages in certain countries. High levels of crime also remain a major problem in many of the region's cities."
Canadian and US cities are strongly represented at the top of the eco-city ranking, both for this region and globally. Calgary grabs the top spot globally with a score of 145.7, closely followed by Honolulu (score 145.1) in second. Ottawa is in third position with a score of 139.9 and Minneapolis follows in sixth place (score 137.8). Mr Parakatil commented: "Calgary's top ranking is down to its excellent level of service on waste removal, sewage systems, and water drinkability and availability, coupled with relatively low air pollution."
The highest-ranking Central and South American city is again Pointe--Pitre (49), followed by San Juan (69) and Montevideo (70).
Europe Europe has 16 cities amongst the world's top 25 cities for quality of living. Vienna retains the highest ranking both for the region and globally and is again followed by Zurich (2), Geneva (3) and Dsseldorf (6). The lowest-ranking Western European cities are Leipzig (64) and Athens (75). Levels of quality of living continue to improve in Eastern Europe, with most index scores increasing slightly. Prague is the highest-ranking city at 70 and its index score increased from 93.9 to 94.8 in 2010. Budapest follows in position 73 and Ljubljana in 77.
In the eco-city index, Nordic cities fare particularly well with Helsinki (3) the highest-ranked in the region, followed by Copenhagen (8) and Oslo in joint ninth place with Stockholm. "Nordic cities do particularly well because the modern parts of most of them have been designed with potential environmental impacts in mind," said Mr Parakatil. Aberdeen (19) is the highest-ranking UK eco-city, followed by Belfast (30), Glasgow (47), London (63) and Birmingham (64).
Middle East and Africa Dubai (75) in the United Arab Emirates and Port Louis in Mauritius (82) are the region's cities with the best quality of living. Abu Dhabi (83), Cape Town (86) and Tunis (94) follow and are, along with Victoria in the Seychelles (95), Johannesburg (96) and Muscat in Oman (100), the region's only other cities in the top 100. Following the revision of the index a selection of cities from this region has been added, including Doha in Qatar (110), Rabat in Morocco (112), Banjul in Gambia (164) and Abuja in Nigeria (205).
Baghdad (221) remains at the bottom of the table, though its index score has increased slightly (from 14.4 to 14.7 in 2010). A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad's quality of living and its score remains far behind that of Bangui (27.4) in the Central African Republic which is second to last.
In the eco-city index, most of the region's cities rank below 100. The highest-ranking cities are Cape Town (30), Victoria (38), Muscat (48), Johannesburg (54) and Abu Dhabi and Dubai (in joint 65). Antananarivo in Madagascar (217) is at the bottom of the list with an eco-city score of 39.7, while Baghdad is at 214, scoring 40.5.
Mr Parakatil commented: "The lack of adequate modern infrastructure in some of the African cities combined with relatively high air pollution explains why many of them are ranked below 100." -Ends- Notes for Editors The worldwide rankings are produced annually from the most recent Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, conducted by Mercer. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Comparative quality of living indexes between a base city and a host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Further information is available from Mercer Client Services in Warsaw, on tel. +48 22 434 5383. Alternatively, please visit www.mercer.com/qualityofliving2010.
The list of rankings is provided to journalists for reference, and should not be published in full. The top 10 and bottom 10 cities in either list may be reproduced in a table. Data was largely collected between September and November 2009 and is regularly updated to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments are revised in the case of significant political, economic and environmental developments.
Updated index Mercer's database of cities contains more than 420 cities. For 2010, the number of cites appearing in the yearly published rankings was increased from 215 to 221. This new roster provides a more well-rounded global perspective. In particular, better coverage is now offered for African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian cities. Many of the additions are gaining popularity as expatriate destinations.
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