Singapore tops survey of most liveable cities for contractors

Singapore tops survey of most liveable cities for contractors

13th March 2020

With so many attractive destinations across the globe, contractors are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing where to work. However, it might be easier to narrow things down due to a recent survey on global liveability by ECA International. According to respondents in the survey, which assessed 490 cities worldwide, Singapore topped the rankings as the most liveable city for the 15th year running. Here’s what contractors need to know.

Liveable cities: Singapore on top for contractors

Singapore has been ranked the most liveable city for expatriates. The survey cited its excellent infrastructure and amenities, low crime rate and a large expat community, as reasons for the destinations appeal. ‘The country will most likely continue to hold the top position in the considerable future,’ said Mr Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at human resources consultancy ECA International, which produces the rankings.

A major player in the APAC region, Singapore has a reputation as one of the strongest economies and safest countries in the world. The number one liveable city is also a top destination for contractors, with a high demand for professionals across a number of sectors. Recent reports, have highlighted skills shortages in the country’s lucrative Fintech industry with demand for skills in AI, machine learning, data science, UI/UX, and digital transformation often outstripping supply.

Not all positives

While Singapore once again topped the charts for the most liveable city, some contracting hotspots fell down the rankings, with Hong Kong falling 43 places in liveability. ‘The scale of Hong Kong’s fall in our rankings is unprecedented and is a consequence of ongoing socio-political tensions in the city,’ said Lee Quane, Asian regional director at ECA.

‘Not only are the heightened political tensions worrying for expatriates living in the region, the protests that have regularly taken place since mid-2019 have had a negative effect on areas of everyday life, which are often taken for granted. This includes disruptions to transportation infrastructure and an increase in crime since the protests began.’

Vietnam, Thailand and expat liveability

Thai and Vietnamese cities all saw significant improvements. ‘Liveability has improved in Thai and Vietnamese locations due to the economic growth that both countries are currently seeing,’ said Mr Quane. ‘As Vietnam develops and invests in better infrastructure, living standards have improved for locals and expatriates in the country. As for the Thai locations in our list, the success of the recent peaceful democratic elections implies that cities in the country have seen an improvement in the political situation as well.’


Meanwhile in Europe, The Hague, Geneva and Eindhoven rounded off the top five cities. Northern European cities in places such as Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Switzerland, have consistently scored well for expat liveability,’ said Neil Ashman, senior location ratings analyst at ECA. ‘Excellent transport links, a high standard of healthcare and long-term political stability, mean that overseas workers from elsewhere in Europe can adapt to these locations with ease.’

Dublin came in ninth on the European rankings while Edinburgh – joint 19th with Stockholm – was the highest rated UK city. Aberdeen stood at 21, Cardiff at 24, Manchester at 39, Belfast and London joint 47, and Glasgow at 55. ‘Pollution, crime rate and terrorism threats are among the factors that affect the liveability of major UK cities,’ said Mr Ashman.

North America

Elsewhere, the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver are the highest ranked non-European liveable cities, beating major European capitals such as Madrid, Berlin and even London for liveability.  Cities in the United States saw mixed fortune, with New York and San Francisco rising in the rankings after improvements to their liveability scores. However, other cities such as Boston have experienced drops.

Contractors should be aware

While this survey of the most liveable cities gives us one way of looking at potential destinations for international contractors, along with several other studies that we’ve covered, it’s important to remember that international regulations vary so much across borders that any contractor will need to make compliance a top priority – regardless of location. For this reason, we strongly recommend that professionals seek compliance advice from a specialist international contractor management company.

Contact the team today.


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