Singapore, Sydney Top for Asian Expats

SINGAPORE ~ Singapore and Sydney are the favorite destinations of Asians relocating to work overseas and the reputation of Chinese cities is improving, a survey showed this week.

The city-state’s much better air quality, low crime rates and services give it the edge over other Asian capitals like Hong Kong, where pollution is a big drawback, human resources consultancy ECA International said.

“Good infrastructure and healthcare facilities, low crime and health risks, and decent air quality contribute to Singapore providing the best quality of living for Asian assignees,” said Lee Quane, the firm’s regional director.

ECA International’s 2008 survey of the best postings for Asian expatriates ranked Sydney in second place – repeating the one-two finish in the previous year’s poll – followed by Kobe in western Japan.

Copenhagen and Vancouver are the only two cities from outside the Asia-Pacific region to feature in the top 10 best locations for Asian expatriates.

The Danish capital shared sixth spot with Tokyo while Vancouver tied with Wellington in ninth position.

Filling up the other spots are Melbourne and Yokohoma in joint fourth position with Australia’s administrative capital Canberra occupying the eighth spot, it added.

The results of the survey, carried out in the third quarter of 2008, remain relevant although the economic situation has changed significantly due to the worsening global financial crisis, Quane said.

“Most of the things that we look at in our rankings, such as pollution…, they tend to be quite static,” he said.

The survey is based on data extracted from 1,800 respondents on how they rate over 400 cities using criteria like climate, air quality and housing.

Other Asian destinations did not fare so well in the global rankings although Chinese cities did see some improvement, with Beijing now boasting better infrastructure because of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Among the region’s key cities, Hong Kong was placed 11th while Taipei and Macau shared 56th spot.

Among key Southeast Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur came 61st, Bangkok 63rd, Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan 95th and Hanoi 122nd.

Manila was in 138th spot and Jakarta was ranked 190th globally.

In another survey on Asian urban issues, Tokyo and Osaka emerged as the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates while sharp currency declines have lowered living costs in Australia and New Zealand.

Shanghai, with a cost of living only two percent cheaper than New York’s, is currently more expensive than Sydney, said the survey carried out last month by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a leading provider of country, industry and management analysis.

Seven of the world’s 10 most expensive cities are in Europe, with Singapore joining Tokyo and Osaka as the only Asian cities on the list.

Oslo and Paris were the world’s costliest cities in the previous EIU survey.

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