Published April 2, 2007

S'pore pips key Asian cities for quality of life

Auckland leads Asia-Pac region; Zurich, Geneva still top Mercer survey


(SINGAPORE) Singapore has retained its 34th position in a global ranking on quality of living - and stays ahead of other key Asian cities such as Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong slipped two places from 68 to 70, according to the 2007 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. But despite offering better living conditions than Tokyo and Hong Kong, Singapore lags behind other cities in the Asia-Pacific region, where it is ranked eighth, below a string of Australian and New Zealand cities.

Auckland is top city in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to quality of living, followed by Sydney and Wellington.

Globally, the Swiss quality of life still seems to be highly regarded with Zurich retaining its top position, followed by Geneva. Vancouver and Vienna were in joint third place.

The survey is based on an evaluation of 39 quality of living criteria that include political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services. Mercer compares 215 cities around the world on an annual basis.

While Singapore remains comfortably ahead of cities in the fast growing economies of China and India, these cities are gradually improving in the rankings. Both Shanghai and Beijing have moved up, for example, from 103rd to 100th for the former and from 121st to 116th for the latter.

And while Indian cities stay quite far down in the rankings, New Delhi actually managed to move up to 150 from 148 previously in the rankings.

'Singapore, the leading Asian city for quality of living overall, scores extremely well due to numerous expatriate facilities and transportation,' said Mercer's senior researcher Slagin Parakatil. 'Chinese cities, especially Beijing and Shanghai, continue to improve much faster than some other cities in the country and public transport, telecommunication and airports have dramatically improved,' he added.

When it comes to health and sanitation, which takes into consideration factors like levels of air pollution and infectious diseases, however, Singapore drops to 50th place. By this measure, the top ranked cities in the Asia-Pacific came from Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Katsuyama was in ninth place, while Auckland and Wellington shared joint eighteenth.

'When comparing Singapore with Auckland, in the natural environment and recreational categories, Auckland beat Singapore hands-down,' said Daphne Wong, a Mercer senior associate who is based in Singapore.

Hong Kong also did badly in this category and was placed 117. 'Hong Kong is seeing a slight drop in the rankings mainly due to its increasing issues with air pollution which have become a major concern for the city,' said Mr Parakatil.

'Singapore is ranked highly due to its political and economic environment, where the political stability and ease of doing business are appreciated by investors (but) lately, haze-created air pollution is a matter of concern,' Ms Wong added.