Saturday, November 28, 2015   

Going up in the world

Staff reporter

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Smog-plagued Hong Kong has jumped from fifth most livable city in Asia for expatriates to third.

But before you choke on our polluted air, the main reason is that disaster-hit rivals have worsened - rather than any great improvement in the SAR.

Of the 49 Asian cities assessed by human resources consultancy ECA International, Hong Kong came in behind only Singapore and Kobe in Japan. The SAR overtook Tokyo and Yokohama - which both fell one place as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan last year and brought on a nuclear calamity.

Globally, Hong Kong ranks 11th, up from 14th last year. Singapore retains top spot followed closely by Sydney.

"Hong Kong's rise up the ranking is a reflection of Tokyo's and Yokohama's fall rather than any locally generated improvements in Hong Kong's score," said ECA International regional director Lee Quane.

"When a natural disaster occurs, infrastructure, utilities and availability of goods and services are all likely to be adversely affected, and this is what we have seen in these two locations."

The notoriously bad air in the SAR, however, did not help.

Hong Kong's quality of living score - as in previous years - was reduced by air quality. "It has the third worst score for any Asian city after Beijing and New Delhi and now ranks among the worst locations worldwide for air quality, along with Santiago, Mexico City and Cairo," Quane said.

"Despite its very poor air quality, Hong Kong's over
all position is fairly strong. This reflects the good schooling, housing, transport connections and availability of goods and services that the territory offers.

"However, air pollution could be a critical factor for an employee trying to decide whether to relocate here. In this respect, Singapore has a clear lead over Hong Kong, giving it an advantage in terms of attracting business from overseas."

The survey takes into account factors such as climate, availability of health services, housing and utilities, isolation, access to a social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, personal safety, political tensions and air quality.

In a separate survey in February, ECA found Hong Kong remained the most expensive city for expatriates to rent high-end residential properties.

Macau kept seventh place in Asia for livability and for cities across the border, scores also remained steady. Shanghai - ranked 83rd globally - is the most livable of mainland locations, followed by Beijing (99).

Small improvements in facilities for expats, such as health amenities and availability of goods and services, meant Guangzhou (112) closed the gap a little.

Taipei, meanwhile, is ranked sixth in Asia but falls to 60th globally. It has some way to go to catch Singapore and Hong Kong, particularly because of health services and sociopolitical tensions.

Good air quality, solid infrastructure and health-care facilities, low crime and low health risks helped Singapore stay top.

The impact of factors such as distance from home and differences in culture, language and climate will vary according to where someone comes from, Quane said.

For Asians going to live and work in Europe, Copenhagen and Dublin offer the best quality of living. Both cities are ranked 8th globally.

Baghdad, Kabul and Port au Prince remain the least favorable locations in which to live.

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