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European cities offer the best quality of life for expatriate staff, according to a study of more than 200 locations.


The survey by Mercer, the international consultants, ranked the cities on the basis of personal safety, health and education facilities, transport, other public services, and social, economic, environmental and political factors.


The most attractive location for expatriate businesspeople was Zurich. The Swiss commercial centre, home of UBS, Swiss Re and Zurich financial services, scored 108 points under a ranking system that uses New York on 100 points as a base.


The US business centre, by comparison, was in 49th place, behind other US cities: Honolulu (28th), San Francisco (29th), Boston (37th) and Chicago and Washington DC (equal 44th).


Personal safety was the most important issue when locating expatriate staff, said Mercer. The fact that there were three Swiss cities – Zurich, Geneva and Bern – in the top 10 locations emphasised the county’s reputation as one of the safest places in the world, it said.


Three German cities – Düsseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt – also made it into the 10 best locations while Vienna, the Austrian capital, was equal second with Geneva. Vancouver, Auckland and Sydney were the only non-European cities in the top 10.


Baghdad was in bottom place with just 13.5 points, ahead of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, with 29.3 points and Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo capital, with 29.5.


A separate survey based just on personal safety, ranked on internal stability, crime, effectiveness of law enforcement and relationships with other countries, put Luxembourg in first place with Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, ranked equal second. Baghdad, Kinshasa, Karachi and Nairobi were least safe.


Canadian cities dominated the overall rankings in the Americas with Vancouver (fourth), Toronto (15th), Ottawa (19th) and Montreal (22nd) ahead of all US locations.


Mr Parakatil said, “Personal safety within Canadian cities ranks among the highest in the region. This is due to a relatively low crime rate and a stable political environment. In contrast, many of the Latin American cities such as Caracas (152nd) Bogotá (207th) or Port au Prince (202nd) continue to be undermined by crime and political and economic turmoil. Traffic congestion and pollution have also had an impact.”


Other top ranked European cities included Copenhagen (11th), Amsterdam (13th), Brussels (14th), Berlin (16th) and Luxembourg (17th). Dublin was 25th and Rome, 55th. Prague (71st) was the highest-ranked eastern European city followed by Budapest (74th).The lowest ranked European city was Minsk (183rd).


Glasgow (43rd) and Birmingham (53rd) were the top ranked UK cities, ahead of London (69th).


Auckland (fifth) boasted the best quality of life in Asia-Pacific followed by Sydney (10th) and Wellington (12th). Singapore (32nd) was ranked ahead of Tokyo (35th), Hong Kong (70th) and Beijing (142nd). Bangalore (140th) was the highest ranked Indian city.


Kuala Lumpur (75th) was ahead of Taipei (84th), Seoul (86th), Bangkok (109th) and Jakarta (146th) while Dhaka, the city with the region’s worst quality of living, scored 38.9. Pakistan was one of the lowest scorers for personal safety, with Karachi and Islamabad ranked 213th and 203rd respectively.


(Courtes of Financial Times Limited)

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