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Expatriate Destinations

The Best Cities in the World for Quality of Life

The 2015 Mercer Quality of Living rankings have rated the best cities in the world for quality of life.  230 countries have been evaluated in the study and Vienna in Austria has come out on top. It has been awarded the title of ‘World’s Most Liveable City 2015’. Vienna has many positive attributes for residents including a vibrant cultural scene, affordable housing and good quality healthcare. In addition, the ‘City of Music’ is known for having one of the best public transport systems in Europe. You can buy one ticket for the bus, tram and underground which makes life a lot easier. The transport cost is also very reasonable.

The annual Mercer study is designed to help companies who are moving employees abroad decide on  ‘hardship allowances’ for international assignments (a way of compensating individuals and families for any decrease in their standard of living). The results may also be of interest to anyone personally planning a move abroad or planning to emigrate in the future.

City Rankings

Overall, European cities dominated the top ten rankings, taking seven out of the ten places. The top ten are as follows:

  1. 1. Vienna, Austria
  2. 2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. 3. Auckland, New Zealand
  4. 4. Munich, Germany
  5. 5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. 6. Dusseldorf, Germany
  7. 7. Frankfurt, Germany
  8. 8. Geneva, Switzerland
  9. 9. Copenhagen, Denmark
  10. 10. Sydney, Australia
  11. Quality of Living Ranking Factors

The ranking factors considered by Mercer for the study include crime rates, political stability, healthcare, water sanitation, infrastructure and ease of communication among others.

Middle East

Dubai (74th place) was rated the highest for the Middle East and Africa region. The city is popular for expats due to the weather, lifestyle and favourable tax benefits among other factors. You can read an expat’s guide to moving to Dubai here: Living in Dubai.

South America

Montevideo in Uruguay was rated as the highest ranking city in South America. The capital city is home to a large proportion of the country’s population and has lots to offer expats in terms of culture and beaches. There is also an international feel to the city.


London is ranked as having the highest quality of living in the UK. Five of the UK cities which featured in the survey were ranked in the following order:

  1. 1. London
  2. 2. Birmingham
  3. 3. Glasgow
  4. 4. Aberdeen
  5. 5. Belfast

North America

Vancouver is the only city in North America which is featured in the top ten world’s most liveable cities.

New Zealand

Auckland – the world’s third most liveable city. The City of Sails has previously been third in the ranking in 2014 and 2012. The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, is quoted in the New Zealand Herald newspaper stating that the city’s infrastructure needs to improve however. Perhaps any improvements in this area will lead to an even higher ranking for Auckland in the future.

Emerging Business Destinations

An interesting point to note regards the ‘second tier emerging cities’ such as Hyderabad in India (138th place) and Wroclaw in Poland. Such cities are investing in infrastructure to attract foreign investment and improve quality of life for their residents. Hyderabad was rated the top country in India for quality of life, it as also has good schools and a good range of connections from the airport.


Singapore is the highest ranking Asian city in 25th place.

Expat Studies

Some alternative destination studies and country rankings which may be interesting include:

HSBC Expat Explorer

Monocle Quality of Life Survey

Internations Expat Insider 


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